Android ‘fleeceware’ has been installed by over 600 million users through the Android Play Store according to security researchers. What exactly is fleeceware? It is the trial version of an application where, at the end of a predetermined variable (days, uses, etc.), it gives the user the opportunity to make a payment or have the application fall into either a limited use mode or stop working altogether.
Where trialware becomes fleeceware
Under Google’s Play Store developer agreement, all trialware users who either notify the developer of their wish to end the trial or uninstalls the applications prior to the trial expiration date, shall not be charged. This turned out not be to true as many application trials were not terminated if the user did not uninstall the application AND request a cancellation.
The cost of fleeceware
Various security researches have reported fleeceware applications charging outrageous amounts of money after the trial period. For example, it is very common for applications to charge anywhere from $10 to $50 per year, sometimes more for complex applications, especially business-related. The reported fleeceware applications, after the trial expirations, have allegedly been charging $100 to $240 per year, sometimes higher, for very basic applications like calculators or image viewers.
Who are the violators
According to a report from SOPHOS (https://news.sophos.com/), there are 15 applications that appear to be the biggest offenders, bearing in mind there are many other applications involved in this billing scandal. Please visit SOPHOS using the provided link at the beginning of this paragraph for more information.
How to protect yourself
While there are many software applications and management suites that are designed to help protect you from adware, malware, privacy breaches and more, the best advice for avoiding fleeceware is best practice. First off, make sure the application you want to install is legit. Check the reviews, research the publisher and make sure they are a verified developer. Second, make sure you know exactly what the charges are for any given application. If it is a trial, what are the costs and are you willing to pay them moving forward? Third, make sure you uninstall trialware AND serve notice to the developer prior to the trial end date. And finally, check your bank statements regularly for unauthorized charges. Whether you agreed to move forward with paid applications or canceled a trial, you will want to make sure every charge (or not) is as expected.
We can help
Contact YITD today to learn more about how we can help protect your business against fleeceware and other unethical mobile applications.
Your IT Department LLC (aka YITD)
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