13 Oct 2014
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Attack of the clones – spoofed apps

By Shannon Williams

Are spoofed apps a concern for the App Store?

Cloned or spoofed apps are apps that resemble other apps in functionality and sometimes name.

Clones can appear to be legitimate versions of the original app, or affiliated with the original app, but can be anything but.

Clones, copycats and rip offs can crowd search results in the App Store, and when there is a free copy cat version that seems legit, the original app could potentially drop significantly in the paid app rankings.

And it’s not just big-name apps that are getting spoofed. Small developers are finding cloned versions of their apps on the App Store as well.

The immediate implications for cloned apps is undoubtedly monetary loss. Negative feedback posted by users also have implications. If a cloned app costs the same as the original app, users potentially will be left disappointed and with a lighter wallet.

Besides the money problem, developers will need to be concerned about protecting their code. Trend Micro CTO Raimund Genes commented on hardening apps to avoid repackaging. The same sentiment could be applied to cloning.

The reputation of the developers can be damaging with the existence of spoofed apps. Users could assume the cloned app was produced by the original developers and as a result, the developers are forever associated with the ripped-off version, which could lead to fewer sales.

While developers can file complaints, takedowns may take some time.

Users should be careful when downloading and ensure they are downloading legitimate apps as opposed to the ripped-off versions. Security apps can be downloaded to ensure you are protected from fake apps.

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