HACKERS ARE CASHING IN on Epic Games' lack of an official Fornite app for Android, tricking would-be players into downloading fake versions of the battle royale-style game.
Epic Games' Fornite, a wildly-popular co-op sandbox survival game, is currently available on all major platforms including the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC and iOS. It hasn't yet arrived on Android, however, with Epic confirming that an official app will be released in "summer 2018".
Hackers and malware-writers have been taking advantage of this lack of Android app, and are spreading unofficial, malware-laden versions of Fortnite across the web.
Hacker News reported on the scams earlier this week, which inspired Nathan Collier, a senior malware intelligence analyst for Malwarebytes, to start installing some of these apps to see what they do.
These apps won't be found in the Google Play Store, but are instead hosted externally as Application Package Kit (APK) files that can be installed on Android devices. Users are finding them by searching 'How to install Fortnite on Android', or simply 'Fornite on Android, or via dodgy links found in YouTube ads.
"It's a simple program that comes in two different package names," Collier says, noting that the fake apps are sophisticated - cloning Fortnite's icon, Epic Games' logo and the loading screen from the game's official iOS app.
Once the dodgy app is downloaded, it asks users to download other apps - legitimate ones from Google Play - in exchange for unlocking Fortnite. Of course, since there is no Android version of the game, there is nothing to open, but scammers get paid for each app downloaded.
"The scheme goes like this: Get a couple of over-excited people salivating for a chance to play Fortnite on Android, and get paid," Collier explains.
"The more downloads, the more money the malware developers can make. With the app being so simplistic, the amount of development effort is pretty low for the amount that could be potentially gained."
And Colliers' advice? Er, be patient, and wait for Epic Games' official release of Fortnite for Android.
"If you wait for the official release by Epic Games in the Google Play Store this summer, you won't have to spend the ensuing months cleaning malware off your Android," he said. µ
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