Government of India’s ambitious DigiLocker app plans to eliminate the use of physical documents, but a lot of fake mobile apps claiming to be the real one are flooding the Google Play Store. This is particularly dangerous because personal information is at risk of being stolen by cyber criminals in case someone uses these fake apps. DigiLocker was launched by Minister for Information and Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad and Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari in February 2015.
DigiLocker as the name suggest is a ‘digital locker’ service, launched by the Indian government to provide a secure dedicated personal electric space for Indian citizens to store their important documents. This app is one of Digital India’s key initiatives, which the Indian government targets as an idea for a paperless governance.
DigiLocker aims to eliminate use of physical documents, and allow users to access them anywhere, anytime. These documents can also be shared online, and avoid forgery. The app recently allowed the integration of driving license and car registration certificates with the DigiLocker. This will eliminate the need to carry paperwork while driving. These documents will be accessible through mobile devices, and will be as good as physical paperwork. The digital copies of registration certificate and driving license can also be shared with other departments for verification purposes.
The fake DigiLocker apps have been circulating on the Google Play Store, with fraudsters aiming to capitalise on the naivety of some users. These apps look authentic, and also use PM Modi’s photo and the Indian national emblem.
DigiLocker is only available for Android users at the moment, and has been downloaded close to 5 lakh times. The fake DigiLocker apps have been downloaded between 10,000 and 50,000 times, so a user needs to make sure they are downloading the genuine app. In order to be sure, check the developer name when downloading DigiLocker; the developer in this case is MeITY, Government of India. Any other developer name is basically a fake app.
Since Google allows anyone to publish an app in the Play Store, it takes time before they are recognised by ‘Google Bouncer’ – that searches the Play Store for fake apps that might steal your credentials. We were able to find at least seven apps with the word ‘Digilocker’ as the app name. One of these apps has only 10,000 downloads and looks really similar to the GoI app. It has also managed to a get higher rating than the actual app.