More than 500 million people have installed the VidMate app, an Android app that enables them to download videos from WhatsApp, YouTube, and other platforms for free. This functionality made the app hugely popular in developing countries where streaming music hasn’t really taken off due to many other reasons.
But it appears that convenience comes at a high cost for most users including Ugandans. According to reports from Upstream a security company in London, VidMate Video App is charging people, draining their Batteries, and mobile data without their consent.
VidMate app is not available on Google Play store but can be downloaded through third-party app stores like Uptodown or their official website and it’s one of the most effective apps for downloading YouTube videos.
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The phone and its connection become part of a botnet and are used to commit ad fraud, at the expense of its owner and his privacy. The alleged ad fraud occurs in the VidMate app when it displays ads that users can’t actually see.
Upstream identified the issues with VidMate in the course of providing security services to mobile carriers in 18 countries, primarily in developing countries. The company monitors activity on the carriers’ networks for ad fraud, malware, and other vulnerabilities, and conducts investigations when it spots a pattern of activity.
The security company also received complaints from users who said their phones were behaving strangely and at times adding paid subscriptions without their knowledge. Upstream acquired and monitored three phones that had VidMate app installed.
It soon detected VidMate surreptitiously downloading and installing a software development kit that loaded hidden ads and secretly signed up users to paid services.