How To Protect Against AppCloner in Android Apps

Last updated January 30, 2024 by Appdome

What is AppCloner?

AppCloner is a malicious third-party app that allows anyone to make a clone or fake version of a legitimate app, which they can then republish on Google Play as a legitimate app.
This process typically involves downloading app cloning software that allows threat actors to clone other apps without needing root access to the device. The attacker selects the app they want to clone, then the software creates a clone of the chosen app and presents it as a new icon.
Each clone operates independently and can have unique user credentials or settings. The attacker can then use the cloned app in the same way they would the original app, except now they are able to log in with a second account of their choice.
For example, an attacker can download the original PayPal app (or any other app) from Google Play, then use App Cloner to make a copy of it (aka a ‘clone’), embed hidden malware inside the clone, and republish it on Google Play as if it were the real PayPal app.

Why is it Necessary to Protect Against AppCloner?

One of the primary concerns regarding AppCloner is its ability to bypass the security features of original applications, resulting in a vulnerability where cloned apps can access and potentially misuse sensitive user data. Here are some examples of how app cloning is misused:

Lack of Automatic Updates: Cloned apps do not receive automatic updates, making them more susceptible to security risks.

Changing App Name and Icon: Attackers can give the cloned app a different name and alter the icon’s appearance.

Adjusting Permissions and Settings: Attackers can remove permissions, allow installation on an SD card, turn off auto-start, enable immersive mode, and more.

Cloned apps pose a significant risk to businesses because they can lead to substantial financial losses, service erosion, and data breaches. With the potential for misuse, promo abuse, manipulation, and account takeover, businesses must be able to detect and prevent the use of cloned apps by bad actors.

Appdome’s Defense Against AppCloner

To address the growing concerns surrounding AppCloner, Appdome offers robust protection for mobile app developers. Our OneShield Anti-Tampering features are designed to safeguard apps against such invasive modifications, ensuring that the integrity and security of your Android applications remain uncompromised.

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