Google heavily regulates gambling via its Play Store

It's not hard to understand why.  The industry has a long history of gouging and otherwise abusing the people who play their games, to say nothing of the flouting of local laws. In response to the company's heavy-handed regulation of their industry, some app developers have taken to disguising the nature of their apps.

On the surface, these stealth gaming apps appear to have other, more mundane functions, but of course, once you actually install them, their true natures become readily apparent. Researchers found one app that was described as a hub for holiday information but once installed, its only function was to redirect users to a lottery system.

Disguising ofter pays off for the developers

Unfortunately, it's a strategy that pays from the standpoint of the developers.  Some of the apps discovered to be little more than shells were spotted in "Top 100" lists. Many had been rated more than a hundred thousand times, which gives a sense of the scope and scale of the problem.

Google has taken note of the trend and has begun ruthlessly removing any apps that employ this kind of strategy, with Apple taking a similar stance.  Unfortunately, about the best the two tech giants can do is clean up the mess after the fact, because many of the app developers making use of this redirect strategy have gotten quite cunning about it. They are deploying an app that appears perfectly normal and then flipping a virtual switch to activate its redirect features once it has been inspected by Google and Apple, respectively.  That, of course, makes it virtually impossible to spot on the front end.

Our perspective

The best thing you can do to prevent downloading such an app is to carefully read and heed the user reviews.  It's certainly not a perfect solution, but it's better than nothing.

As Hill Street Blues' Sgt. Esterhaus always advised: "Hey, let's be careful out there!"

Meanwhile, check out this report

This free executive report may give you insights into how to build your business with safe IT environments: 10 Hidden IT Risks That Might Threaten Your Business and 1 Easy Way to Find Them

The author

Thanks for reading this short post. For more tips on thriving with small business technology, check out the other blog posts at DWPia Blogs. I am also available on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Cybersecurity Expert, Small Business Technology Consultant, Managed Services Provider, Managed IT SupportI am Denis Wilson, President and Principal Consultant for DWP Information Architects. I help professionals grow their business by building a foundation of rock-solid information solutions for smaller healthcare, insurance, financial, legal, and nonprofits firms in Ventura County and San Fernando Valley. And have created cost-effective IT solutions, for over 20 years, specializing in cybersecurity and regulatory compliance. I am also a published author and speaker, working extensively with a variety of organizations, as well as providing small business technology education programs through business and professional associations. This just in: I will be speaking regularly at California Lutheran University's Center for Nonprofit Leadership starting in September.

Contact me if you would like me to speak at your association.