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Unsafe ‘Flappy Bird’ released on Google Play Store, extra charges on phone bill

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The popular mobile game, Flappy Bird, may have been removed from iOS and Android platforms earlier this month, but cyber-scammers are flooding the marketplace with unsafe clones of the title. According to a report by Trend Micro from Feb. 11, Trojan-infested versions of Flappy Bird have begun to populate the Google Play Store, and you’ll want to avoid downloading these fakes.

Trend Micro have issued a warning to Android users looking to download the Flappy Bird app from the Google Play Store. With hundreds of fakes and copies now populating the marketplace, users are opening themselves up scams which could end up costing a significant amount of money.

In their report, Trend Micro notes that these fake Flappy Bird apps are Premium Service Abusers – meaning they send text messages, leading to unwanted phone bill charges. Find Trend Micro’s full explanation below:

All of the fake versions we’ve seen so far are Premium Service Abusers — apps that send messages to premium numbers, thus causing unwanted charges to victims’ phone billing statements. As seen below, the fake Flappy Bird app asks for the additional read/send text messages permissions during installation — one that is not required in the original version. After the game is installed and launched, the app will then begin sending messages to premium numbers.

Furthermore, all this activity is hidden from the user. The malware will send text messages and hide the notifications with other content. Find additional details below:

And while the user is busy playing the game, this malware stealthily connects to a C&C server through Google Cloud Messaging to receive instructions. Our analysis of the malware revealed that through this routine, the malware sends text messages and hides the notifications of received text messages with certain content.

More disturbing is that these Flappy Bird apps also pose a risk for a personal data leak as the malware will send out the phone number, carrier, and Gmail address registered to the device. Likewise, some of these Flappy Bird apps have a payment feature, which was not part of the original game. Additional information on personal security breach can be found below:

Apart from premium service abuse, the app also poses a risk of information leakage for the user since it sends out the phone number, carrier, and Gmail address registered in the device.

To avoid these potentially expensive problems, Trend Micro advices all users to be careful when installing applications. You can find more information on this concern on Trend Micro’s website.

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