Fake apps have risen overall in 2013, Symantec said. The apps appear to be legitimate but often they contain a malicious payload. Increasingly, the phony apps are designed for mobile devices, and masquerade as rereleased free versions of popular legitimate apps, Haley said.
Haley said one fake app scam that quickly spread to Japanese smartphone users purported to convince them that it could turn their phone screen into a solar panel to quickly recharge the device battery. The app was designed as a joke, but it could have been used to harvest data. Other apps use aggressive advertising tactics to sell the user's data and browsing habits to a third-party advertising network.