Flappy Bird clones riddled with malware
Published 24/06/2014 | 13:46
Over three quarters of mobile apps masquerading as the popular game Flappy Bird are infested with malware, according to security researchers.
The original Flappy Bird game was released in mid-2013 on Apple iOS and early this year on Android. The game was a huge success, with more than 50 million downloads, before developer Dong Nguyen pulled the app in February.
Based on its popularity, cyber-criminals developed hundreds of Flappy Bird clones containing malware. In its latest quarterly threat report, McAfee Labs sampled 300 of these clones and found that 79 per cent of them contained malware.
Through the clone apps, cyber criminals were able to hijack the user's smartphone to make calls without user permission, install additional apps, extract contact list data and track geo-location, according to the researchers.
They were also able to establish root access for uninhibited control over anything on the device, including the recording, sending, and receiving of SMS messages.
Flappy Bird was not the only app to suffer from this issue. The manipulation of legitimate mobile apps and services played a key role in the expansion of mobile malware at the beginning of 2014, according to McAfee.
“We tend to trust the names we know on the internet and risk compromising our safety if it means gaining what we most desire,” said Vincent Weafer, senior vice president for McAfee Labs.
“The year 2014 has already given us ample evidence that mobile malware developers are playing on these inclinations, to manipulate the familiar, legitimate features in the mobile apps and services we recognise and trust."
He added: "Developers must become more vigilant with the controls they build into these apps, and users must be more mindful of what permissions they grant.”