25 May 2015
More than 30 ransonware apps, purported to be Minecraft cheats, were available for download from the Google Play store, says IT security firm ESET in a recent blog post.
Minecraft, a lego-like adventure game, is primarily used by by children and young adults, (according to this straw poll, anyway.) How sad that kids have to deal with being duped by someone who really just wants to steal from them.
Those of us with both kids and devices under one roof are likely to have had one or two encounters with the ever popular game. In April, Investopedia listed Minecraft as the top grossing 'paid apps'.
This has sadly proven to be a successful ruse for the malicious apps’ creator(s), with victims downloading the fake cheats apps between 660,000 and a whopping 2.8 million times! Here is how it works. Instead of providing cheats to the popular game, these apps display banners that falsely warn the user that the device has been infected with a ‘dangerous virus’. Victims are directed to activate a premium-rate SMS subscription, costing them weekly fee of £3.50 GBP, say ESET.
So, if only 1% of the downloaders activated the premium rate subscription for a single week, the bad guys could stand to gross more than £20,000.
While the bogus apps each have their own look and feel and were uploaded from different accounts, those examined by ESET all have similar functionality. The firm’s researchers are convinced that one person is behind it all. ESET state that these malicious ransonware apps have been uploaded to Google Play Store over the course of the last nine months, and this raises the question: how come these ransomware apps weren’t spotted sooner?
Google, as recently as March 2015, published a blog post stating that it was going to do more to protect Google Play users by improving its app review process.
Google needs to figure out a solution quickly - situations like this can seriously erode the trust between Google and its users. Shouldn’t Google users expect safe and honest transactions when downloading from its Play store? If I bought a watermelon from a supermarket and cut it open to find it filled with rotting seaweed, you bet I would take it back to the supermarket a full refund and an apology.
Question is, should this not be the expected mode of practice online?
Tags: Minecraft cheats apps Google Play Store ransonware