Android Police reports that the No. 1 new paid app in Google Play isn’t at all what it seems. Virus Shield has been downloaded more than 10,000 times despite a substantial $4 price tag, and garnered a 4.7-star rating. But while the app claims to scan users’ devices in real time to block malware and protect personal information, it actually does nothing, according to writer Michael Crider, who posted the app’s code to support his claim. “This is fraud, pure and simple,” Crider concludes, “and the developer ‘Deviant Solutions’ potentially made considerable amounts of money based on a complete lie.”
While the overwhelming amount of mobile malware targets Android users, Google has done a good job of keeping its flagship app store clean despite its policy of accepting all apps and dumping them only after users report malicious code. Just last week, in fact, Google once again tightened up its policies to reduce the risk of malware and aggressive adware. But the success of Virus Shield proves that policy isn’t enough to prevent thousands of users from being bilked. Google has already taken the app down, but we’re sure to see other unscrupulous developers try to take a page from Deviant Solutions’ playbook. Google should find a way to vet premium apps before other fraudulent apps tarnish Android’s reputation further.