Menu
Pokémon Go guide app with half a million downloads hacks Android devices

Pokémon Go guide app with half a million downloads hacks Android devices

The app was found on Google Play and was not the first, researchers from Kaspersky Lab said

Security researchers have found a malicious application on Google Play that had over 500,000 downloads and was designed to gain complete control over Android devices.

The application masqueraded as a guide for the popular Pokémon Go game and used multiple layers of obfuscation to bypass Google Play's malware detection mechanisms, researchers from Kaspersky Lab said in a blog post.

The app contains a malicious module that doesn't execute immediately. Instead, the app waits for another application to be installed or uninstalled in order to determine if it's running on a real device or in an emulated environment, like the ones used to detect malware.

Once the app determines that it runs on a real device, it waits a further two hours before executing the malicious module, which then connects to a remote server and sends data about the device. The server can instruct the module to download exploits for local privilege escalation vulnerabilities that were discovered in Android between 2012 and 2015.

These are known as root exploits because they grant access to the highest privileged account on Android -- the root account. In other words, successful exploitation will lead to a full compromise of the device.

Google has released patches for all of these vulnerabilities, but because of the fragmentation of the Android ecosystem, there are likely many devices out there that haven't received all the updates.

This doesn't mean that the 500,000 downloads represent the number of compromised devices. Android has local protection features like Verify Apps and SafetyNet that are specifically designed to detect and block known root exploits.

Kaspersky identified over 6,000 successful infections, primarily in Russia, India and Indonesia. "However, since the app is oriented towards English-speaking users, people in such geographies, and more, are also likely to have been hit," the Kaspersky researchers said.

The malicious “Guide for Pokémon Go” app was not the only app in the Google Play store that contained this Trojan module. Kaspersky found other such apps that were in the store at different times since December 2015. Most of the older apps had around 10,000 downloads, but one called "Digital Clock" had more than 100,000 downloads.

Google has done a pretty good job at keeping malware out of its official app store over the past few years, but as this incident shows, malicious applications can still slip through from time to time.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags PokemonsecurityAndroidhacking

Slideshows

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments