WITH THE release date of Super Mario Run for Android just days away, some apps are claiming to offer Nintendo’s hit new game now – but it’s not all quite as it seems.
The first ever official Mario mobile game from Nintendo launched on iOS devices before Christmas, and has already been downloaded millions of times, despite its £7.99 price tag.
However, as Android users are still being made to wait a little while longer for their chance, it seems that cybercriminals are waiting to strike against eager gaming fans.
Security experts are now warning Android users to beware apps claiming to offer a version of Super Mario Run for their device after uncovering a veritable mountain of malware.
Researchers at security firm Trend Micro have found a growing number of malicious Android apps posing as Super Mario Run or other related content.
The company has detected more than 9,000 apps falsely using the Mario name on a number of third-party app stores, which have shown up around 90,000 times in 2016 alone.
Trend Micro notes that the majority of the malicious apps it found simply displays annoying or intrusive advertising, however some of the nastiest variants are able to install unwanted or unneeded apps onto the user’s device.
One app highlighted by the team does not offer the new Super Mario Run, but an emulated version of the original Super Mario Bros – albeit one clogged up with pop-up and banner apps and attempted downloads.
Another app claims to need an update as soon as it is downloading, forcing users to download another potentially harmful program.
In order to stay safe from such scam apps, Trend Micro is advising users to steer clear of third-party app stores entirely, especially when downloading apps that claim to be the “unofficial” or “unreleased” versions of legitimate apps.
Users can also protect their device from inadvertent installations by third party stores or websites by disabling “Allow installation of app from unknown sources” from Android’s security settings, and by installing a full mobile security solution.
Lastly, many malicious apps infect their victim’s devices by asking to run as a device administrator, which the firm says should never be needed for gaming apps.
The news comes shortly after a similar warning to eager Android Mario fans not to download a rumoured APK file for the game, which had reportedly been leaked online.
Security firm Arxan found several shady websites claiming to have early – and free – access to the files, and then using the popularity of the game to trick people into downloading malware.
The webpage claims that downloading the APK files will enable you to play Super Mario Run on a Samsung Galaxy, or LG V20, or Google Pixel.
However doing so would just download malware on to your device.
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