Over 10 lakh Android users downloaded a fake application that they thought was an update for WhatsApp Messenger before it was removed from the Play Store on Monday. The app turned out to be a barrage of advertisements linked to other apps, reports said.
Screenshots posted by users showed that the app was called “Update WhatsApp Messenger”, and its logo and developer name – “WhatsApp Inc.” – were the same as that of the original version of the popular messaging app owned by Facebook.
Since two developers cannot have the same name, the maker of the fake app used an empty character after “WhatsApp Inc.” to be technically different from the actual developer’s name but yet appear to be the same, according to Hacker News. Android users normally ensure an app is secure if they can recognise the name of the developer.
In May, Google introduced Google Play Protect, a system to verify apps for security, that scans them to identify potentially harmful apps. Google or WhatsApp have not yet issued any statement yet.