The Netflix Squid Game series has become the latest hot trend in pop culture across the globe, inspiring nail painting to Halloween costumes and even smartphone apps. However, cybercriminals have found ways to harness the interest in the global phenomenon to target unsuspecting individuals. Google’s Play Store recently removed an app for Squid Game wallpapers after a cybersecurity company reported it was being used to spread malware.
Cyber security researcher Lukas Stefanko, who studies malware at security firm ESET, has discovered that the “Squid Wallpaper 4K HD” app is being used to infect Android phones with the notorious Joker malware.
While the Joker malware has been around for a while and was even spotted on the Google Play Store earlier, this is the first instance of a Squid Game-based app used to distribute it.
According to Stefanko’s post, the app had been installed over 5,000 times before it was identified and removed. The app could download and run native libraries and even run APK payloads, the security researcher noted in his article. This could be used to install Joker malware on devices.
Stefanko warned that the reported app allowed hackers to perform “malicious ad fraud and / or unwanted SMS subscription actions.” This means that infected devices can be bombarded with unwanted advertisements through text messages. Cybercriminals could also register affected users for certain premium services. , which can cost them a lot of money.
Although the app has been removed from the Play Store, users who had it installed on their device continue to be at risk. They should uninstall the application immediately to remove the threat of being targeted.
Stefanko noted that there are over 200 Squid Game based apps available on Google Play. The most downloaded of these apps reached one million downloads in 10 days.
“This seems like a great opportunity to make money on in-app ads for one of the most popular TV shows without an official game,” he said.
Considering how cybercriminals can use such opportunities to trick people into giving access to their devices, users need to be very careful when installing apps on their devices. Make sure that the apps you download are from official or authorized sources. Never download apps from unauthorized sources or app stores to protect your devices.
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