The Cyber Advisor’s Monthly Cybersecurity Tip

Vigilance and diligence when purchasing mobile applications prevents the purchase of “Fleeceware”.

Fleeceware is a newly coined phrase that refers to a mobile application that comes with excessive subscription fees.  The purpose of these applications is to draw users into a free trial period to “test” the app, after which they overcharge them through subscriptions.  While these applications generally fulfill their intended purpose, they generally have no unique functionality and are merely conduits for fleeceware scams.  Some examples of these phony apps are PDF readers, Photo editing apps, QR code scanners, Flashlight apps, and Horoscope apps.

Deleting a fleeceware app does not stop you from being charged for their service since users continue to be charged, even if the app is deleted.  The only way to stop payments to one of these apps is go to phone settings and cancel the subscriptions altogether.

Here are a few tips to keep you safe: 

  • Only download applications from official app stores (Apple and Google)
  • Never download an application that is advertised to you when you are surfing the web – there is no guarantee that the app will be legitimate
  • Do your research:
    • In the app store, check to see if the app developer is legitimate
    • Check the app reviews.  If there are not many user reviews listed for the application, or there are a small number of positive reviews that read the same way, run away! 
    • Read the app description to ensure that it’s grammatically correct- fake apps can be rife with misspellings
    • Consideration using a virtual payment card, not only for signing for app subscriptions, but any online transactions. Virtual payment cards offer more privacy protections than your credit card. 

If you have fleeceware currently on your phone, use the following examples to remove the app from your device:

  • Apple users: Go to settings icon. Click on your apple ID at the top of screen. Click on subscriptions, and then select the active subscription you want to cancel, and click on cancel all services. You will still have access to the app until the subscription period ends. 
  • Android users: Open the play store, and ensure that you are signed into your Google account. Tap the hamburger menu icon, and tap subscription and cancel the subscription.

Most cybersecurity breaches occur because of the human element.  Every day entrepreneurs are bombarded with messages to purchase new technology and mobile applications to simplify life.  We hope these tips bring you greater vigilance and diligence to a safer entrepreneurial journey online!

The Cyber Advisors provides cybersecurity tools that protect entrepreneurs on-line.  Our mission is to bring Emotional Intelligence and Cybersecurity solutions that help protect your reputation, finances, and family.  

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