As you have heard us say before, malicious hackers are opportunists. So it doesn’t surprise me in the lease to find that hackers are now disguising malware of all makes and models as the app currently trending worldwide.
Researchers from the anti-virus company ESET have found three malicious apps related to the app sensation, Pokémon Go. The first one is called the Pokémon Go Ultimate. But the only thing that is “ultimate” about it is that ultimately locks you out of your phone. ESET felt this particular malware was the biggest threat as it immediately locks up any device after being installed. Restarting an infected phone doesn’t resolve the issue either. The infected phone can be unlocked either by removing the battery or by using the Android device manager, but Ultimate isn’t done with you yet. The malicious continues to run in the background, surreptitiously clicking on any ads you might come across when surfing the web or playing games in an attempt to generate revenue for its creators.
ESET uncovered two other fake Pokémon Go apps in Google Play. Guide and Cheats for Pokémon Go (which should be a warning to you as “cheats” for any game runs the risk of you being banned from it, if caught by game developers) and Install Pokemongo run ransomware and scareware to trick users into buying expensive and unnecessary services to “protect” their phone from malicious apps (ironically like Guide and Cheats for Pokémon Go and Install Pokemongo), or pay money to get rid of it.
Pokémon Go is not the only app that hackers are trying to emulate on Android phones. Since February of this year FireEye has discovered 55 malicious programs in Europe using an app interface overlay technique. The European smartphone network has been fighting against a recent wave of malware delivered through apps designed to look like Uber, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Google Play. If you have heard of at least one of these apps, you understand how popular these services are and how careful consumers need to be. This malware which struck Android users in Denmark, Italy, and Germany has been spread through a phishing campaign over SMS. The link installs the malware that creates a fake user interface as an overlay on top of actual real app. The overlay interface then asks for credit card information which is sent to the hacker. You don’t realize that it is malware because it looks like whatever app you’ve brought up.
Security experts have tracked back the origins of this malware back to the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands. The most recent wave of this malware is in Europe now. If you think we’re dodging a bullet here, we’re not. It’s going to be reaching American shores soon, but we can take precautions. Watch what you are downloading, and be particularly careful when receiving links from unknown senders on SMS and email. Remain vigilant, and know what you’re clicking and downloading from the Internet. It never hurts to ask questions online before acting.
A research physicist who has become an entrepreneur and educational leader, and an expert on competency-based education, critical thinking in the classroom, curriculum development, and education management, Dr. Richard Shurtz is the president and chief executive officer of Stratfdord University. He has published over 30 technical publications, holds 15 patents, and is host of the weekly radio show, Tech Talk. A noted expert on competency-based education, Dr. Shurtz has conducted numerous workshops and seminars for educators in Jamaica, Egypt, India, and China, and has established academic partnerships in China, India, Sri Lanka, Kurdistan, Malaysia, and Canada.