Fake WhatsApp apps will be automatically blocked from the Google app store. The change was highlighted by Will Cathcart, director of WhatsApp, last week.
In several posts on Twitter, the executive said that the company expanded the security features of the platform and reinforced that “it is never a good idea” to download fake or modified versions of WhatsApp – programs of this type usually offer extra features.
“These apps seem harmless, but they can circumvent privacy and security guarantees,” he wrote.
How Google Blocks
Google Play Protect, a system that analyzes the security of applications for Android, is automatically detecting and disabling fake and malicious programs involving WhatsApp, according to the executive. And that’s before they are downloaded by users.
According to the head of WhatsApp, the service’s security team discovered malware (malicious program) hidden in the “Hey WhatsApp” application, from a group of developers called “HeyMods”.
“These apps promised new features, but they were just a scam to steal personal information stored on people’s phones. We shared what we found with Google and worked with them to fight malicious apps,” he added.
In the publications, Cathcart also asked that users of the platform warn friends and family about the risks of using modified versions of the original program: “Encourage them to only use WhatsApp from a trusted app store or directly from our website.”
This is not the first initiative by the Meta group (also owner of Facebook and Instagram) to curb the use of applications that imitate WhatsApp.
The company has already publicly announced that using non-official programs violates the company’s Terms of Service. Therefore, the person can have their account banned from WhatsApp. Popular apps like GB WhatsApp and WhatsApp Plus were even cited by the company as banned.
Why WhatsApp clones are successful
For some users, WhatsApp has limited features. And, to snatch this range of dissatisfied, anonymous software programmers started to create pirated apps from the official version.
These programs mimic the original and offer more functionality, such as:
- Sending audio and video of a maximum of 100 MB.
- Hide “last seen”, online status and when you view a message
- It does not show when you are typing or recording audio.
- New emoji packs.
- Status longer with the possibility of using up to 250 characters, in addition to direct download to the cell phone.
- Use of different fonts and text colors.
- Password to open the application and/or protect conversations that the user wants.
- Groups with the largest number of participants.
- Feature that prevents other users from deleting messages for you.
- Scheduling the sending of messages.
In addition to those mentioned above, other programs of this type are: OGWhatsApp, WhatsMapp and Whatsapp 2 — there are other variations.
“We will continue our efforts to detect and block these types of apps going forward. We are also taking enforcement action against HeyMods to prevent further harm and will further explore legal options to hold HeyMods and others like them accountable,” said Cathcart.
We’ll of course continue our efforts to detect and block these kinds of apps going forward. We’re also taking enforcement action against HeyMods to stop future harm, and will further explore legal options to hold HeyMods and others like them accountable.
— Will Cathcart (@wcathcart) July 11, 2022