The news has been awash this week with stories of Pokémon GO, the latest mobile craze developed by Niantic in partnership with Nintendo.
The free-to-play location-based augmented reality game allows players to capture, battle and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on device screens as though in the real world. Worldwide interest in the game has been phenomenal and, in just a few weeks, Pokémon GO has reportedly more active daily users than Twitter. However, as with most popular online endeavours, cybercriminals have been quick to exploit the game for nefarious purposes.
Unofficial Pokemon GO applications could have malware.
Pokémon GO has not been simultaneously released across the world, and players who cannot face the wait for it to be released in their country have found ways to download it through unofficial channels. Unfortunately, some of these versions have been infected with malicious code to gain access to devices. By installing one of these unofficial applications, a device may be vulnerable to an attacker who could gain access to any data on the phone as well as the ability to make phone calls, send text messages and use the microphone and camera. This poses obvious risks to individuals, but if business professionals have downloaded the game onto a device that they take to work, valuable business information could be leaked if the microphone or camera are exploited.
Mitigate the risks
To help mitigate potential risks, players should make sure they check the permissions for the application to ensure that it is not accessing more than the camera, location services, contacts and the memory storage card. If that version of the game does then users should reinstall it and download the official game from the Google Play store (there are no reported malicious apps in Apple’s App Store).