New Delhi: Fake oximeter apps masquerading as Covid-19 awareness and prevention techniques are reportedly spreading online, and instead of being constructive, these apps may be programmed to attempt to steal your fingerprint data, as well as any other sensitive information on your phone. Late last week, a Twitter profile on cyber hygiene affiliated to the Government of India’s Ministry of Home Affairs posted about this cyber threat, and urged users to not fall for apps promising to monitor oxygen levels on their phones.
Scam apps such as the ones mentioned here may often be vehicles for malware, spyware and other forms of malicious codes and tools that may infect your device. Often, such apps are advertised as downloadable from outside the Google Play Store’s comparatively safer ecosystem, which further increases the risk. Users should remain vigilant about the fact that for an oximeter to function, any device requires a physical SpO2 blood oxygen sensor to be present on it. Simultaneously, even reading the heart rate requires a physical heartbeat sensor, and smartphones available in the market today come with neither.
Hence, apps promising to read oxygen levels and heart rates by using a phone’s fingerprint sensor are evidently not offering accurate services, and are likelier to be malicious in nature. Along with trying to steal your data, these apps may also serve as adware, while not offering any real feature. Given that this would violate Google’s Play Store policies, it is likely that such apps are being advertised and served from outside the Play Store ecosystem.
On this note, users are advised to not download any such app that makes such fraudulent claims. The advisory from MHA’s Cyber Dost Twitter handle comes at a time when the Indian government has spoken out about increasing cyber security vigilance in light of China’s attempts to snoop in on Indian citizens. While it is not ascertained if there is a link, malicious apps such as these fake oximeter apps may just be vehicles for such cyber espionage tactics. Those keen on monitoring their blood oxygen levels are recommended to purchase an actual oximeter from any medical or online store.