Be On The Lookout For A Fake Pokémon Go App(s)

Pokémon Go became a global phenomenon in just a few days. Millions of players have the sole purpose of catching as many digital monsters as they can, no matter where they are going in order to accomplish it. We’ve seen numerous reports showing us the dark side of the global Pokémon addiction, from people finding corpses, to persons falling down from cliffs. But now, a different kind of threat is on the rise, and if not being careful, your phone might get unusable.

Pokemon go

Since the app isn’t available in most markets at the moment, someone thought that if making a fake Pokémon app, putting it on Google Play, and infecting it with malicious software would be a great idea. They managed to turn the idea into reality and now more than one fake Pokémon Go app can be found on Google’s app marketplace. To be more precise, there are three malicious apps capitalizing the recent Pokémon frenzy in order to make your phone unusable.

Icon of the fake app - Image courtesy of Eset

Icon of the fake app – Image courtesy of Eset

Researchers at Eset, one of the biggest antivirus solutions available at the market right now, reported about discovering at least three suspicious apps in the Google Play. Out of the three, the one named Pokémon Go Ultimate is the biggest threat. After installing it, the app will intentionally lock your screen, and restarting the phone, or shutting it off and on again, will not make the problem disappear. The only way of ridding the menace is to remove the battery (a bad news if owning a model with non-removable battery) or using the Android Device Manager.

But, even if unlocking the screen, your phone will still be vulnerable, since the app will be present, even though it will be removed from the phone’s app menu. Now titled PI network, it will run in the background trying to make you click on as many ads as possible in order to earn some many for its creators. It seems that PI network could be the first case of lock screen ransomware on Google Play, meaning that from now on, be extra careful when downloading new apps on your smartphone. As Lukas Stefanko, one of the researchers at Eset stated, “This is the first observation of lock screen functionality being successfully used in a fake app that has landed on Google Play. It is important to note that from there it takes just one small step to add a ransom message and create the first lock screen ransomware on Google Play.”

Screen lock pokemon go

Lockscreen of infected phone – Image courtesy of Eset

Oh, and also be extra careful if planning to download Pokémon Go app from third-party sources, since it has been reported that an altered version of Pokémon Go app, containing a backdoor remote access tool titled DroidJAck, appeared on some third-party app stores. When installed, it gives the author a full remote access to the phone. It’s best to just wait for the official app becomes available for your market since trying to hunt for Pokémon in countries not currently supported can get you a different kind of digital monster dwelling in your phone.

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