A new report by security firm Sophos claims that more than 3.5 million iOS users have installed Fleeceware app on their devices. In the past, we have seen how cybersecurity threats like malware, ransomware have affected millions of users. Fleeceware is the latest addition to the list.
What is Fleeceware?
As mentioned earlier Fleeceware is a relatively new term that was coined by Sophos researchers last year. Fleeceware apps mark their presence on both iOS and Android stores. Apple allows app makers to offer a trial period for paid apps. In other words, you will be charged only once the trial period is over. After the trial period, the amount is directly debited from your account.
Fleeceware is based on the fact that app makers can charge users even after they uninstall the app. Typically, users will uninstall the app after the trial period is over thinking that they won’t be charged. Later they realize that they are being charged even after uninstalling the app. Furthermore, App Store policies let app makers create a custom trial cancellation step, however, some app makers would deliberately want users to go through the hoopla of unsubscribing.
The worst part is that some app makers are charging $100 to $240 fees for apps that offer functionality with zero value. Sophos notes that most of the apps are titled as flashlight apps, horoscope apps, and bar code scanners. It is also worth noting that a majority of the features offered by these apps are already available on iOS. Thus the term “Fleeceware.”
Fleeceware on Apple App Store
Sophos report says that they have found similar apps on the Apple App Store and all of them operate in an identical way.
Like we have seen before, most of these fleeceware apps are image editors, horoscope/fortune-telling/palm readers, QR code/barcode scanners, and face filter apps for adding silly tweaks to selfies.”- Jagadish Chandraiah, Sophos mobile malware analyst.
Apparently the apps bombarded users with online advertisement and failed to offer any functionality after being installed. A majority of these apps lure users with flashy ads promising the moon. Once the user is charged they will not follow the trail cancellation procedures.
The good news is you can safeguard yourself from Fleeceware by unsubscribing to the same. This article will help you cancel iOS App Subscription on iPhone or iPad.[via Sophos]