Scareware posing as Minecraft cheats installed by over 600,000 users

Scareware posing as Minecraft cheats installed by over 600,000 users
Google has removed all rogue apps from the Google Play Store after being alerted, said ESET.

SINGAPORE - Looking for cheats for Minecraft? You might want to be more careful.

Researchers have discovered over 30 fake applications pretending to be cheats for Minecraft on the Google Play Store. These "scareware" trick their victims into believing that their Android devices have been infected by a virus, and try to get the users to register for a premium-rate service.

The researchers from IT security company ESET said that these fake apps have been downloaded and installed by more than 600,000 Android users.

They said that Google has removed all the rogue apps from the Google Play Store after being alerted.

The first of these scareware apps were uploaded to the online store in August last year, according to ESET in its report on welivesecurity.com. The scareware "has spread massively" despite the apps getting poor user reviews and negative comments, ESET said in a statement on Monday (May 25).

"The seriousness of this threat lies in the fact that it may have been downloaded by almost three million users from the official Google Play store," says Lukas Stefanko, Malware Researcher at ESET.

ESET said that none of the fake apps contain any of the "promised functionality" (cheats) and only displayed banners that tried to trick users into believing that their devices have been "infected". Users would then be directed to activate a premium-rate SMS subscription costing 4.80 Euro (S$7), the report said.

The scareware apps were uploaded to the Google Play Store by different developer accounts, but they were likely created by one person, ESET said. All the apps acted in a similar way, the only differences being the names and icons used.

sinsh@sph.com.sg

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