AppWatcher: Unveiling the underground market of trading mobile app reviews

Zhen Xie, Sencun Zhu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

Driven by huge monetary reward, some mobile application (app) developers turn to the underground market to buy positive reviews instead of doing legal advertisements. These promotion reviews are either directly posted in app stores like iTunes and Google Play, or published on some popular websites that have many app users. Until now, a clear understanding of this app promotion underground market is still lacking. In this work, we focus on unveiling this underground market and statistically analyzing the promotion incentives, characteristics of promoted apps and suspicious reviewers. To collect promoted apps, we built an automatic data collection system, AppWatcher, which monitored 52 paid review service providers for four months and crawled all the app metadata from their corresponding app stores. Finally, AppWatcher exposes 645 apps promoted in app stores and 29, 680 apps promoted in some popular websites. The current underground market is then reported from various perspectives (e.g., service price, app volume). We identified some interesting features of both promoted apps and suspicious reviewers, which are significantly different from those of randomly chosen apps. Finally, we built a simple tracer to narrow down the suspect list of promoted apps in the underground market.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 8th ACM Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks, WiSec 2015
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
ISBN (Electronic)9781450336239
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 22 2015
Event8th ACM Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks, WiSec 2015 - New York, United States
Duration: Jun 22 2015Jun 26 2015

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 8th ACM Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks, WiSec 2015

Other

Other8th ACM Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks, WiSec 2015
CountryUnited States
CityNew York
Period6/22/156/26/15

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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