Avast, one of the popular cybersecurity company discloses that Fleeceware apps as VPNs on Apple App Store are overcharging users without providing services advertised by them.
Avast claims that these dubious apps have recorded almost 800,000 downloads from Apple App store users between April 2019 and May 2020 according to Sensor Tower, a company known for mobile app insights and marketing intelligence. Each download even though they do not indicate how many of the users paid for the app services stands at 420,000 for Beetle VPN, 271,000 for Buckler VPN, and 96,000 for Hat VPN Pro.
How To Identify Fleeceware Apps
Fleeceware Apps are known to overcharge users for functions that are most times available to the public for free or at a low cost. These charges come monthly, quarterly, or yearly according to Nikolaos Chrysaidos, Avast’s Mobile Threats & Security head.
They sometimes offer free trials for few days but often ask users to enter their payment details before they can have access to the free trial in which their payment details get billed automatically after the end of the trial at exorbitant rates. “They are mostly sub-standard with fake-looking reviews containing few critical or neutral review.” Says Nikolaos.
Avast’s Response Concerning The Fleeceware Apps
Avast grouped these apps as Fleeceware after they downloaded, installed, and purchased a subscription on each app, but when they tried to use each VPN’s services, they were asked to subscribe again.
Their researchers attempted to purchase the subscriptions the second time but were informed they already have a subscription, thus were denied access to establishing a VPN connection on any of the apps.
The security firm also highlighted other flags like the privacy policies which have similar language structure across the three apps, similarity in reviews even though some reviews warn of the overcharging, but they remain few and far behind.
Users are advised to observe what happens when the trial ends on apps ends, and what they end up charging thereafter to be sure if there are automatic charges without prior notice so as not to fall prey to Fleeceware of this nature.