The Netflix series Squid Game has become the latest hot trend in pop culture around the world, inspiring nail polish art to Halloween costumes and even smartphone apps. However, cyber criminals have found ways to exploit interest in the global phenomenon to target unsuspecting individuals. Google’s Play Store recently removed a Squid game wallpaper app after a cybersecurity firm reported it was being used to spread malware.
Cybersecurity researcher Lukas Stefanko, who studies malware at security company ESET, discovered that the Squid Wallpaper 4K HD app was used to infect Android phones with the infamous Joker malware.
While the Joker malware has been around for a while, and was even spotted earlier on the Google Play Store, this is the first instance of a Squid Game-based app used to distribute it.
According to Stefanko’s post, the app was installed more than 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 post. This could be used to install the Joker malware on devices.
Stefanko warned that the reported app enables hackers to conduct âmalicious advertising fraud and / or unsolicited SMS subscription actionsâ. This means that infected devices can be bombarded with unwanted advertisements via text messages. Cyber ââcriminals could also sign up affected users for some premium services, which can cost them a lot of money.
While the app has been removed from the Play Store, users who had the app installed on their device are still at risk. You need to uninstall the app immediately to eliminate the threat of being attacked.
Stefanko noted that there are more than 200 apps on Google Play that are based on Squid Game. The most downloaded apps reached 1 million downloads in 10 days.
“Seems like a great opportunity to make money off of in-app advertising on one of the most popular TV shows with no official game,” he said.
Considering how cyber criminals can take advantage of such opportunities to trick people into granting access to their devices, users need to be very careful when installing applications on their devices. Make sure the downloaded apps are from official or authorized sources. Never download apps from unauthorized sources or app stores to protect your devices.
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