The original Barcode Scanner app is getting review-bombed with malware accusations

One of many first Android apps — ZXing Group’s Barcode Scanner, an app that predates the first official release of Android itself — is at the moment getting review-bombed on the Google Play Retailer. A whole bunch of customers are leaving 1-star opinions claiming a current replace spews undesirable advertisements, whereas almost 200 extra have come to the app’s protection with 5-star opinions of their very own.

It’s not fairly clear what’s occurring right here, however the prevailing concept is that the 100 million-download robust app is getting mistaken for an additional one with the identical actual identify — one which may have been a clone of ZXing’s app and one which did add malware in a current replace, according to digital security firm MalwareBytes.

MalwareBytes appears to concentrate on the confusion; it up to date its submit yesterday to be additional clear that the unhealthy barcode scanner app was this one, which got here from an organization referred to as Lavabird. Google eliminated that app from the Play Retailer, so it wouldn’t be stunning if offended customers looked for it and located the unsuitable one.

The sudden consideration shocked the app’s co-creator, Sean Owen, who tells The Verge that he’s not fearful about his status — merely due to how ridiculous he thinks the claims are.

“[T]his is such an outdated well-known app that I feel anybody knowledgeable would guess it may’t be this app: it’s open supply, for one. It hasn’t been up to date in years. And there’s simply no motive, to make an app for 13 years simply to stay malware in on the finish is an implausibly lengthy recreation,” he says. The Google Play Retailer exhibits the app was final up to date in February 2019.

However he additionally isn’t ruling out the likelihood that his code is being manipulated in some way, maybe by hijacking the intents system that Android makes use of to let one app hand off duties to a different. “Many individuals declare it’s ‘positively’ this app in a method I hadn’t seen earlier than — and I’ve learn hundreds of feedback through the years — so, who is aware of?”

Owen says he and his co-author Daniel Switken now remorse their choice to make the app open source again within the day due to all of the instances it’s been cloned by corporations attempting to make a fast buck by including advertisements or skins. “For a time we pursued a number of the bigger ones for OSS license / trademark issues, however, that was fewer than 10 out of the 100s I noticed even a few years in the past,” Owen says.

This isn’t the primary time his app has been mistaken for a nasty clone, he says. “Sooner or later a analysis paper claimed this app was phoning private information to a 3rd social gathering website, and that induced one other wave [of bad reviews], however, naturally the authors discovered they’d blended up two comparable apps.”

I redownloaded the OG Barcode Scanner app at this time for the primary time in a few years. After I launched it, the app warned me that it “was constructed for an older model of Android and should not work correctly,” and I discovered it solely works in panorama orientation. However I noticed no advertisements, it positive scanned barcodes quick, and I haven’t seen any pop-ups or browser hijacking but.

Testing out the unique Barcode Scanner app on a contemporary Android telephone.
Screenshot by Sean Hollister / The Verge

Proper now, ZXing Group’s Barcode Scanner app sits at a strong 4.0 stars with almost 640,000 opinions. Google didn’t reply to requests for remark about how it might deal with the damaging opinions.

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