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Reliance Jio Coin: At least 22 fake apps on Play Store

The description on the pages of some of these apps claim that they offer Jio Coins in exchange for doing “tasks”.

, ET Online|
Updated: Jan 29, 2018, 07.07 PM IST
If a fake website comes, can a fake app be far behind? It has only been a few days since news of fake websites peddling Jio Coin, a crypto currency reportedly in the works from Reliance, came up. Now, Google’s Android Play Store is seeing a flood of apps - all purportedly peddling Jio Coin. At last count, there were at least 22 apps which had Jio Coin in their name available for download on the Play Store.

They range from Jio Coin, to Jio Coin Buy and Jio Coin Crypto Currency. While most of these apps have fewer than 1,000 downloads, there are three which have been downloaded between 1,000 and 5,000 times and two which have been downloaded between 10,000 and 50,000 times.

The description on the pages of some of these apps claim that they offer Jio Coins in exchange for doing “tasks”. However, while there has been speculation through January that Reliance, one of the India’s largest corporates, has been brewing its own cryptocurrency for launch in 2018, the company hasn’t really opened up about any such plan yet.

Security experts warn users to stay away from downloading any such app. Fake apps have traditionally been about mining personal data, but this time the threat could be different. Shomiron Das Gupta, founder of cyber security firm NetMonastery, says that at least some of these apps could be hiding a new kind of malware, which uses the processing power of your phone to mine crypto currencies in the background.

The upward curve in cryptocurrency prices through 2017 had triggered huge demand for system resources. While mining the older crypto currencies like Bitcoin would require massive processing power, smaller cryptocurrencies, Das Gupta says, could even make do with mining activities spread over thousands of infected phones.

The most downloaded apps with Jio Coin in their name require the user to give permission for finding accounts on the device, finding contacts, sharing precise location access to modify or delete photos and other files, receiving data from the Internet, viewing network connections, running at startup, controlling vibration, providing full network access, and preventing the device from sleeping. That is a long list of potentially dangerous permissions.

Security researchers have pointed fingers at Google for letting fake apps fester. Unlike Apple’s App Store that allows apps to be listed only after a stringent verification process, Google’s more open Play Store allows developers to list apps easily. While developers can apply for verification, this process can take time and is not mandatory.

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