Installing Pokemon Go? Beware, malicious fake apps already on Google Play store

In addition, shady developers have been trying to take advantage of the Pokemon Go craze, by coming out with unofficial apps that offer cheats, tips, and music from the game. "Pokemon GO Ultimate serves as a perfect example". After it was installed, this application appeared as "PI Network" and it froze devices, making them unresponsive and the only way to make their phones functional again, users had to remove the battery.

The app, however, has been pulled off from Google Play, ESET reported.

ESET also spotted several other malicious apps, including Install Pokemongo and Guide & Cheats for Pokemon Go.

"This is the first observation of lockscreen functionality being successfully used in a fake app that has landed on Google Play", Eset malware researcher Lukas Stefanko wrote in Friday's post.

Fortunately, users can easily delete it, by going into app section of the phone's settings, and manually uninstalling.

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However, there's evidence that many Pokémon fans in these countries that are just getting the game managed to grab it before it was officially available. One such message claims the device is infected with malware and prompts the user to spend money to get the malicious apps removed. But the incident reminds increasingly app-centric consumers to pay careful attention to what data they are sharing when they download the latest game.

Last week, researchers from security firm Proofpoint discovered a backdoored version of the Pokémon Go app for Android. The information could be used to target advertising or it might be sold to third parties.

The malicious app was available in third-party app stores.

Updated on 07-15-2016 by Julian Chokkattu: Added in news of the game's launch in Italy, Spain, and Portugal. The continued presence of malicious apps inside the official Android marketplace underscores the significant limits of Google's attempts to detect malicious or abusive behavior before admitting titles.

  • Michael Mitchell