A Telegram clone was discovered on the Google Play Store last week by security researchers. The app dubbed Teligram was downloaded around 2,800 times before being removed by Google.
With over 2.7 million downloads on Android alone, Telegram is one of the most popular instant messaging apps out there. As it’s often the case with popular products, users can expect to see a number of doppelgangers based off of the original, some better than others. In the case of Telegram, the latest clone discovered was definitely better than most and managed to fool quite a few people into downloading it. The app was discovered by Symantec researchers on the Google Play Store under the name Teligram and according to their report, it was a pretty convincing fake.
Needless to say, the misspelled name should have been the first sign that the app was maybe not legitimate, but in spite of that, Teligram was downloaded some 2,800 times before eventually being shut down by Google. Apart from the name, Teligram and Telegram were virtually identical save for a few minor differences that were very easy to miss unless you are very familiar with the original messaging app. A side-by-side comparison of the two apps reveals that the only noticeable differences was a slightly modified icon. Aside from that, everything was pretty much identical, including the app’s description on Google Play.
While imitation can sometimes be the highest form of flattery, in the case of Teligram this wasn’t necessarily the case. By all accounts, its developers created it for the purpose of generating advertising revenue for themselves. Teligram featured both chat list advertisements and full-page ads towards that purpose. Interestingly enough, Teligram was reportedly built on Telegram’s code and was modified to contain a Trojan.Gen.2 malware, which could have been used for much more malicious purposes than simply delivering ads. Luckily, though, it seems like the developers were mainly interested in the revenue potential coming from the ads, as the app wasn’t found to contain any malicious behavior.
Telegram is an open source project, which means that any developer with a bit of knowledge can jump in and change its code in a variety of ways. This allows developers to quickly find and repair bugs or come up with improvements, however, it also allows malicious actors to create clones and inject them with malware, as was the case with Teligram. In this particular case, the malware wasn’t as bad as it could have been but users should still be careful whenever they install a new app, just to be on the safe side.
As always, there are a few easy steps you can take to ensure that the app you’re downloading is legit and safe. First of all, check the name of the developer in order to make sure that the app was made by the right people. In the case of Teligram, the app was created by a different group so it was pretty easy to tell it was a fake just by looking at the name. In addition, checking the comments and ratings can also give you some very useful clues. For future reference, the Telegram app for Android can be found at this link right here.