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August 13, 2020
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Fake TikTok Malware Being Spread Through WhatsApp, Maharashtra Cyber Cell Warns

TikTok Pro Malware, which can steal information on your phone, is being spread through fake apks on WhatsApp groups that are being passed off as TikTok, warns the Maharashtra cyber cell. Indians keen to get TikTok back after the government banned the app are downloading it from links shared on WhatsApp groups, and this is leaving them vulnerable to malware. This new scam takes advantage of people whose favourite apps got removed after the recent ban on 59 Chinese apps in India, including TikTok, Shein, Club Factory, ShareIt, and many more.

The Maharashtra government has issued advisory cautioning users against this malware app as it looks to ‘steal sensitive information from your phone’. The TikTok Pro malware app looks just like the original TikTok app. It asks for permissions for camera, image gallery, mic, among other things.

While many of the 59 apps banned by the government had a lot of users, none was quite as popular as TikTok, and in its absence, a number of Indian alternatives are trying to build up a user base. Not only that, but Facebook’s Instagram also launched its TikTok alternative, Reels in India. Despite this, the fact that the government had to warn people about this malware shows how popular TikTok appears to be in India.

The Maharashtra Cyber cell tweeted to warn people about this new TikTok scam. The government advisory says that people are now taking advantage of the popularity of TikTok by promoting a malware app called TikTok Pro. The offenders are calling TikTok Pro an alternative to the banned app. They are sending text messages via various social media platforms, encouraging users to download the app from external links. The message vaguely reads, “Enjoy TikTok videos and also make creative videos again. Now TikTok is only available in (Tiktok pro) So Download from below: Link.” The government advised citizens to not click on the link or download any APK files of the banned apps as they could sources of malware.

Office of the Special Inspector General of Police, Maharashtra Cyber, has also listed some cautionary steps to practice to avoid being scammed into downloading the TikTok Pro malware app. Apart from not clicking on unverified links or downloading APK files of banned apps, the cyber cell also advices users to just delete any message that reads like the one above, and not forward it to others.

Furthermore, they said that any link that begins with http:// is considered not secure for communication of private and sensitive information. Ensure that every link you click on begins with https://. Lastly, always double check if the app is listed on Google Play store and read the reviews before pressing the ‘Install’ button. In the case of the TikTok Pro malware app, you will find that it is not listed on Google Play store and hence the cyber cell advises ‘people to not download it from any external sources’.


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