Woburn, MA – June 9, 2021 – Kaspersky announced its discovery of several malicious apps disguised as Minecraft modpacks. Fraudsters used the apps to spread adware or steal social media credentials. Several of the apps were available on the Google Play store.
Recognized as the world’s top-selling game of all time, Minecraft attracts the attention of enthusiastic players around the world but also draws the interest of fraudsters. Kaspersky researchers had previously discovered more than 20 since-deleted malicious applications advertised on app stores offering additional Minecraft features. The newly developed ones also exploit the game to further fraudster’s objectives.
Modpacks are user-created packages with additional gameplay elements for the game. Kaspersky researchers analyzed various apps, including several which are available for download on the Google Play store and claimed to be modpacks. As a result, the company’s experts found various malicious apps spreading adware or stealing social media credentials.
The researchers discovered several apps distributing adware, a software that bombards users with unwanted ads, disrupting the normal use of their devices. These applications do not even have to be open for advertisements to be shown at a fraudster’s command. The apps can also load additional modules that allow its icon to be hidden, as well as suddenly open a browser, app pages in Google Play and show YouTube videos, all of which interfere with the use of the smartphone.
Kaspersky researchers also found two modpacks that had the ability to display full-screen ads, including when the application was not running, but couldn’t hide the icon or launch a browser, YouTube or Google Play. For additional monetization, the developers used the "in-app purchase" function.
There were also several other applications that could steal social media accounts. In one case, a fake ad network app and a fake client used for advertising on TikTok were available on Google Play. If a user entered their Facebook credentials, their account would then be stolen.
“Unfortunately, deleting applications from official stores does not always lead to victory over the malware,” said Igor Golovin, security expert at Kaspersky. “We see that the developers upload new modified versions to the store, under different names and different developer accounts. This is why we strongly recommend installing a reliable security solution that will prevent the download of dangerous programs. Acting at this early stage will help you to bypass potential threats and focus on enjoying the game.”
To keep safe from malicious apps, Kaspersky experts also recommend:
- Do not download mods from suspicious sites, or pirated software. Attackers are well aware of people’s craving for all things free, and they exploit it through malware hidden in cracks, cheats, and mods.
· Install an antivirus solution on your phone, like Kaspersky Internet Security for Android.
· Do not turn off your antivirus when playing. Kaspersky Security Cloud‘s gaming mode prevents the antivirus from consuming too many system resources during a game. It has no impact on performance or frame rate but still takes care of security.
· Reinstalling the browser or changing its settings won’t get rid of the malware. First, the user needs to identify the malicious app. The device will display a full list of apps under settings, (Settings → Apps and notifications → Show all apps). Delete the app from this list and the malware should be gone.
· Purchase games responsibly. Check the reputation of the application and distribution account before downloading a game.