'Squid Game'-themed apps on Android could steal your money
Netflix's Squid Game web series is all the rage these days and Google's Play Store has not been spared from the hype. There are over 200 Squid Game-themed apps on Android's official app store. However, researchers have discovered that some of these themed apps are spreading the infamous Joker malware that can steal your banking data. Here's how you can stay safe.
ESET security researcher confirms an app had Joker malware
One particular Squid Game-themed wallpaper app on the Google Play Store named "Squid Game Wallpaper 4K HD" was found to be laced with the Joker malware. The malicious app was first discovered by reverse engineer and security researcher @ReBensk on Twitter. The app was also analyzed by ESET Android malware researcher Lukas Stefanko, who corroborated the presence of Joker malware components in the app.
Squid Game themed Android Joker— Lukas Stefanko (@LukasStefanko) October 19, 2021
1) downloads and executes native lib
2) native lib downloads and executes apk payload
Running this app on device might result in malicious ad-fraud and/or unwanted SMS subscription actionshttps://t.co/PTDtPlUkBy pic.twitter.com/AFs8gkEuab
Joker malware subscribes to services, spams victim with advertisements
For the uninitiated, the Joker malware has been around for years now. It propagates by being injected into seemingly ordinary apps as a payload. Interestingly, the Joker malware's activities are initiated the moment the app is launched. Unbeknownst to the user, the Joker malware subscribes to paid services and bills the user's device for it. It is also capable of stealing banking information.
Thumb rule: Don't download unofficial apps, especially not for wallpapers
The malicious Squid Game wallpapers app was downloaded at least 5,000 times before Google kicked it off the Play Store. Stefanko rightly suggested it's a good idea to read reviews from others that could "suggest what the app is about." Additionally, we suggest you download wallpapers from Google Images or stock photo websites like Shutterstock and Pexel instead of suspicious-looking themed apps.
Apps leverage ads to make money off 'Squid Game's popularity
Although not found to be laced with malware, several other unofficial applications from small-time developers are trying to piggyback on the viral show's popularity. Stefanko noted that while being rudimentarily constructed and safe to use, these apps (and their developers) are all trying to make a quick buck by peppering the user with intermittent and annoying advertisements.
Over 200 #SquidGame related apps are available on Google Play— Lukas Stefanko (@LukasStefanko) October 19, 2021
Seems like a great opportunity to make money on in-app ads from one of the most popular TV show without official game.
The most downloaded of them reached 1M installs in 10 days. Its game play is not that well handled pic.twitter.com/gCOYXXaVHY