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Malware on Google Play - Lurking in the Shadows of Minecraft

Malware has long been an issue for mobile apps, especially on Android. Although official figures show the number of infected apps to be at its lowest point since 2008, there is still a lot of malicious software around masquerading as our favourite games.

theregister.co.uk
The most recent target for the legions of hackers with nothing better to do has been Minecraft. It was recently found that there are over 30 apps (at least) available under the Minecraft name that contain vicious malware or ad-ware. Google are making efforts to combat the trend, but with their often slack controls and vetting system for the play store continuing to let them down, it may be something of an uphill battle.

When properly scanned, it was discovered that some of these malicious apps had up to 2.8 million downloads, highlighting the severity of the issue.

Part of the problem when it comes to identifying and removing the apps is that they often start out as perfectly 'clean.' The apps advertise themselves as innocent cheat sheets, walkthroughs or tips for the aforementioned game, which is true to begin with. It's not until the first time you attempt to update the file that the malware is imported and the problem begins. This unfortunately means that the apps slip through the cracks of Android's 'Bouncer' service and onto the devices of millions of Play Store customers.

Of course, the motivation behind it all comes down to money. Many of the problem apps, circulating under trusted names, will pretend to be on the side of the consumer. They highlight the presence of malware and direct you onto a sales page for a premium malware removal tool. If the customer is confident that their app is genuine, these simple tricks are quite likely to work, generating a steady stream of easy income for the hackers behind the software. This 'premium removal tool,' of course, will not work. 

The best, and likely only, way to properly defend against these threats is to turn a little bit paranoid. Only download apps after checking the publisher name and credentials and avoid any apps offering cheats or hacks.

Thankfully, the malware doesn't affect the genuine version of the Minecraft app, so my map full of medieval castles is safe for the time being!


Sam Bonson
Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. Currently working as Editor of this Blog, he hopes to one day drop that 'aspiring' prefix. Follow him @SamAtSMF

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Malware on Google Play - Lurking in the Shadows of Minecraft Reviewed by Sam Bonson on Monday, June 01, 2015 Rating: 5

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