Apps that lure users with false facades, while hiding hidden intentions have become an online peril, particularly for real money gambling content.
Google and Apple have vowed to clamp down on underhanded developers who use deceptive means to publicize their content. Stricter rules and restrictions have been implemented to stem the tide of fake or “chameleon apps” that have appeared on Google Play as well as Apple’s App Store.
Apps featuring gambling-related content are allowed space in the App stores of both companies. The challenge for the tech monoliths, however, has been eradicating the prevalence of related content in countries where online and mobile sites offering real-money gambling are prohibited due to local laws.
A targeted attack
Content and security specialists Trend Micro, have reported that both tech firms have recently launched a new, aggressive assault on chameleon apps and have managed to wipe out several games and other apps from their respective stores, following a discovery that some developers were attempting to sneak their way into territories where real-money gambling apps are banned.
The apps appear to mask their true intention by hiding money-gambling functions behind benign facades such as weather tracking systems and entertainment booking platforms.
The art of deception
The developers creating the programs in question have worked hard to conceal the true nature of their products by way of a “switch” feature. The “switch” is a function that swaps out certain features at specific points during the development and qualifier stages, in an attempt to circumvent automated screening systems and fool them into approving programs that contain gambling-related material.
While the developers involved in this deceit have caused Google and Apple a significant amount of trouble, their creativity is unquestionable. Their efforts have even landed many of the chameleon apps on Apple’s App Store’s Top 100 best apps list.
Apple is pinning its hopes on its new native content policies, hoping for a swift and decisive victory against a complex and intelligent foe.