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Busting myths: Differentiating safe crypto apps from phony ones


What you need to know:

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As we recognise Cyber Security Month this October, Binance is proud to extend its commitment to safeguarding the financial assets and personal information of its users in Kenya and around the world. Our goal is to debunk common misconceptions and demystify cryptocurrency, ensuring that users have accurate information to protect themselves online. In this second edition of our Crypto Mythbuster series with Nation, we take a look at how users can distinguish between fake and secure Crypto apps.  Be sure to read our first Mythbuster and look out for future articles to follow. 

As the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange in terms of volume, Binance is well aware of the duty it has towards users. Nadeem Anjarwalla, the Director for Binance in East and West Africa, explains that stringent measures are taken to protect them – and their investments – against fraud. Even so, there are many applications designed to mimic legitimate applications. 

Identifying such applications is difficult, says Anjarwalla. That’s because to the untrained eye, there is no difference between them and authentic apps. Every aspect, including the logo, the description of services (and the services themselves), and even the functionality and interface, has been so carefully designed that it can pass for the real thing. “Make no mistake: cybercriminals go to great lengths to ensure this is the case. Some even repackage source code from the official application to ensure an authentic-looking replication.”

So, how can you tell the difference?

One of the first giveaways is the distribution of such apps. For instance, an investor wishing to download the Binance app may do so only from three sources: the Binance website (www.binance.com), the Apple app store or Google Play. In contrast, fake apps are disseminated through third-party or counterfeit app stores, or social engineering via emails or SMS messages.

Unfortunately, they may also appear on official app stores, which is why it is important to take a closer look at every app before downloading. Anjarwalla reveals that even the most careful imitations may show a distorted icon, but there are other red flags to look out for, too.

For example, a fake app often asks for many unnecessary authorisations once the app has been installed. “Read the developer’s privacy policy first, before you download the app,” Anjarwalla advises. He adds that you should take time to read reviews, as an excess of positive or negative reviews alike can indicate that the app is not authentic. The same applies to grammar mistakes, as any professional developer will have taken the time to have all copies proofread before posting app descriptions. Warning bells should also sound if there is a low number of downloads. Any widely used, legitimate app will have millions of downloads. 

“The Binance app has well over 50 million downloads on the Google Play store alone, for example,” Anjarwalla says. Then again, if a large number of downloads and reviews has been recorded on an app that has a recent release date, you should be suspicious. As Anjarwalla says, “A legitimate app, with a high number of reviews and downloads, will have been released several years ago.”

Finally, make sure to check the app developer’s information, such as phone number, email address and website, before downloading the app.

Anjarwalla warns that downloading fake apps could have several implications, as they often contain ad bots, hostile content (such as hate speech), ransomware, or spyware. They may also place you at risk for billing fraud, or they may use your phone as part of an attack to mine cryptocurrency.

Fortunately, it is possible to safeguard yourself against threat actors. Anjarwalla reiterates the importance of reading through the description, reviews and developer’s privacy policy with a very careful eye. “Don’t click on any suspicious-looking links. Similarly, if you receive any unusual requests or notifications that look unofficial, ignore them,” he says.

It’s also a good idea to deposit or withdraw only a small amount of cryptocurrency as a trial before you go on to conduct larger transactions. For extra security, activate two-factor authentication.

If you are concerned that you have inadvertently downloaded a fake application, delete it immediately. Then restart your phone and report the incident to your app store.

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Did you know? Binance recently partnered with Miti Alliance, a social enterprise in Kenya, to collaborate with young students in planting trees for their community? This partnership underscores the vital importance of combining crypto innovation with tree-planting efforts for a sustainable future.  The community event included 92 Binancians, over 120 students, and Binance’s East and West Africa Director, Nadeem Anjarwalla. 

About Binance

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Binance is the world’s leading blockchain ecosystem and cryptocurrency infrastructure provider with a financial product suite that includes the largest digital asset exchange by volume. Trusted by millions worldwide, the Binance platform is dedicated to increasing the freedom of money for users, and features an unmatched portfolio of crypto products and offerings, including trading and finance, education, data and research, social good, investment and incubation, decentralisation and infrastructure solutions, and more.

Risk Warning: Digital asset prices are subject to high market risk and price volatility. The value of your investment may go down or up, and you may not get back the amount invested. You are solely responsible for your investment decisions and Binance is not liable for any losses you may incur. Past performance is not a reliable predictor of future performance. You should only invest in products you are familiar with and where you understand the risks. You should carefully consider your investment experience, financial situation, investment objectives and risk tolerance, and consult an independent financial adviser before investing. This material should not be construed as financial advice. For more information, see our Terms of Use and Risk Warning.

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