Saturday, 23 May 2015

Fake Minecraft Apps Scare Hundreds of Thousands On Google Play

ESET has discovered over 30 scareware applications available for download from the Google Play store. The malicious applications, which pretended to be cheats for the popular Minecraft game, have been installed by more than 600.000 Android users.

Most of the rogue applications pretended to be cheats for the popular Minecraft game. All of the discovered apps were fake, in that they did not contain any of the promised functionality and only displayed banners that tried to trick users into believing that their Android system is infected with a “dangerous virus”. Users were then directed to remove viruses by activating a premium-rate SMS subscription that would cost them 4.80 EUR per week.

All of the identified scareware apps behaved in a similar way, the only differences being in the names and icons of the applications. They were uploaded to the Play store by different developer accounts, but ESET suspects that these were all created by one person.

The first scareware applications were uploaded to the store in August 2014. During the time they were online, they received poor user reviews and negative comments. Yet, according to public data from the Google Play store, several of them were installed between 100.000 – 500.000 times and the total number of installations of all 33 scareware applications lies between 660.000 and 2.800.000.

The damage that this recent Android malware discovery can inflict is perhaps less acute when compared to the file-encryptingAndroid/Simplocker but the seriousness of this threat lies in the fact that it may have been downloaded by almost three million users from the official Google Play store.

ESET security software detects this threat as Android/FakeApp.AL. After ESET’s notification, Google has taken the apps down from the Play store. In March 2015 Google announced that all applications will also be reviewed by humans. This step should increase security and further lower the amount of malicious applications on Google Play.

Full story with screenshots available on ESET Ireland’s blog: