MALWARE DISGUISED AS MINECRAFT MODPACKS DISCOVERED ON GOOGLE PLAY STORE

Minecraft, a popular and best-selling game, has attracted gamers’ attention globally and scammers. In November 2020, Kaspersky had found over 20 malicious applications being advertised offering additional features in Minecraft. Though these malicious apps were deleted from official stores, Kaspersky experts have found newly developed ones, which exploit the game to further fraudsters’ objectives.

Researchers at Kaspersky found various malicious apps stealing the social media credentials of users and spreading adware. Many such apps are game modpacks (user-created packages with additional gameplay elements) and can be downloaded from the Google Play store.

As per the research, the discovered apps can enable your browser, Google Play Store’s app pages, or Youtube Video Links to pop up while loading extra modules to hide icons suddenly. They can disrupt the smooth functioning of your smartphone or tablet.

“Unfortunately, deleting applications from official stores do not always lead to victory over the malware. We see that the developers upload new modified versions to the store – under different names and different developer accounts. This is why we strongly recommend installing a reliable security solution that will prevent the download of dangerous programs. Acting at this early stage will help you to bypass potential threats and focus on enjoying the game,” said Igor Golovin, a security expert at Kaspersky. Secondly, researchers have identified two mod packs with basic features where an app displays full-screen ads even when the application is not open on your screen. Unfortunately, they cannot hide the icon and launch a browser, YouTube, or Google Play. The developers use the “In-App Purchase” feature for additional monetization through apps.

Researchers recommended various ways to keep your devices safe from such malicious apps:

  • Users must not download mods from suspicious sites or pirated software because attackers are aware of people’s tendency to go for free stuff.
  • An antivirus solution like Kaspersky Internet Security can be installed on the smartphone. Users must be mindful of not turning off their antivirus when playing.
  • If any malicious app is discovered, rather than reinstalling the browser or changing the settings, users need to identify the app that is causing problems. The device will display a full list of apps under settings (Settings → Apps and notifications → Show all apps). Delete the app to remove the malware
  • Lastly, purchase games only after carefully checking the reputation of the application and distribution account before downloading a game.

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