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Fake Narendra Modi apps aplenty, but it’s up to users to protect themselves

The app, hosted on Google Play store, automatically gets excessive permission including full network access and ability to take pictures and videos once downloaded.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: December 2, 2016 10:57:11 pm
modi3 The app, hosted on Google Play store, automatically gets excessive permission including full network access and ability to take pictures and videos once downloaded.

A “Narendra Modi” app, purportedly offered by the Government of India, caught the attention of Internet expert Pranesh Prakash on Thursday as the app developer was found to be using a Bangladesh-based web host and e-mail address. Suggesting that this could be the work of a con-artist, Prakash underlined that granting access to fake apps could lead to security breach. The app, hosted on Google Play store, automatically gets excessive permission including full network access and ability to take pictures and videos once downloaded. The original NaMo, however, only gets access to read, modify and delete the user’s media files. The “fake” app was downloaded more than 1 lakh times and has an average rating of 4.4 from over 2,000 reviews. A simple search on the play store throws up dozens of Narendra Modi apps, some even calling themselves fake apps. The original app was published by Narendramodi.in and Government Of India. But there are scores of other apps trying to imitate the original.

Pranesh, who is Policy Director at The Centre for Internet and Society, also questioned how users can differentiate between fake and genuine apps when even the official app was registered using a gmail address. While the Government of India Narendra Modi app has been published using info@narendramodi.press, the one by Narendramodi.in has been published using a simple Gmail app. He also highlighted how the play store was flooded with fake banking apps, with one such “SBI app” gaining full access to the user’s files. Incidentally, the fake Modi Ki Note app which has been in the limelight since the demonetisation on high value notes and issue of new ones itself has many duplicates.

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In the last two days, the Congress and its vice-president Rahul Gandhi fell victim to hacking as their verified Twitter accounts were compromised. Profane content was shared from both accounts, targeting the Gandhi and his family. This lead to the Congress questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s digital India push as security remains a huge concern.

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