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Fake Minecraft Modpacks On Google Play Deliver Millions of Abusive Ads and Disrupt Normal Phone Usage

 

Scammers have now begun taking advantage of the Minecraft sandbox video clip game’s wild accomplishment by building Google Play applications.
These applications surface to be Minecraft modpacks, but in its place supply abusive ads, as per researchers. Because Minecraft was designed in Java, it was easy for third-party developers to create compatible applications or these “modpacks” to enhance and customize the gaming experience for players. 

The reason why the game is so popular is basically the fact it builds certain skills within the players which have also been touted by parents and educators as beneficial (especially for kids). Since July, Kaspersky researchers have found more than 20 of these apps and determined that they have been downloaded on more than a million Android devices. 

Among those 15,000 Minecraft mods lurk at least 20 that Kaspersky researchers were able to identify as malicious. Google Play has removed all but five of the malicious titles, Kaspersky said: Zone Modding Minecraft, Textures for Minecraft ACPE, Seeded for Minecraft ACPE, Mods for Minecraft ACPE and Darcy Minecraft Mod are still up and available.

As per Kaspersky, once the modpack malware is installed on the Android device, it only allows itself to be opened once, and once opened, the app is glitchy and useless — exactly how it’s intended to work. 

“The frustrated user closes the app, which promptly vanishes. More precisely, its icon disappears from the smartphone’s menu. Because the ‘modpack’ seemed glitchy from the start, most users, especially kids and teens, won’t waste time looking for it,” a report reads by researchers.

“The sample we examined automatically opened a browser window with ads every two minutes, greatly interfering with normal smartphone use. In addition to the browser, the apps can open Google Play and Facebook or play YouTube videos, depending on the [command-and-control] server’s orders. Whatever the case, the constant stream of full-screen ads makes the phone practically unusable,” the report continued. 

Researchers said reinstalling the browser or messing with the settings would be the next likely troubleshoot, but that won’t get rid of the malware either. 

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.

“Fortunately, the misbehaving modpacks get removed entirely with deletion and do not try to restore themselves.” However, researchers suggest that in order to avoid malicious apps for the parents and kids they should know where to look. For instance, they pointed out that although two of the malicious modpacks have different publishers, the descriptions are identical, “down to the typos.” 

The app ratings also offer a clue something is fishy. Kaspersky pointed out that the average rating was in the three-star neighborhood, but that’s because there were extreme reviews on either end of the spectrum, one-star or five-stars. 



Users complain that the app doesn't work and just deletes itself

“That kind of spread suggests that bots are leaving rave reviews, but real users are very unhappy,” the report added. “Unfortunately, in this case, the cybercriminals are targeting kids and teenagers, who may not pay attention to ratings and reviews before installing an app.”

Hackers Attack Gaming Industry, Sell Player Accounts on Darkweb


Generating a tremendous revenue of $120.1 billion in 2019, the gaming industry is one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors. But this success comes at a high cost as it attracts hackers as a potential target. However, cyber-attacks in the video game industry are hard to trace, making the sector vulnerable to cybercriminals in recent times.



About the attacks
As per recent research, there exist covert markets that trade stolen gaming accounts. These trades can generate an unbelievable amount of $1 billion annually with this business. The Fortnite and Minecraft together amount to 70% of what these underground markets make. According to reports, Roblox, Runescape, Fortnite, and Minecraft are responsible for generating $700 annually. Experts at Night Lion security say that hackers selling stolen Fortnite player accounts are making up to $1 million annually.

Recent developments 
Hackers are now operating as a hierarchical organization, appointing designations for different work. The structured enterprise has positions like developers, senior managers, project managers, sales, and public relations to sensationalize their services.

  • The actors are using open cloud services and digital platforms to conduct their business. 
  • The hackers steal in-game inventories like skins, crates, and coupons from player accounts and sell them on the black market for a lower price. 
  • These hackers often target top gaming accounts and steal player profiles to trade them for lower prices in the underground market. 

Recent attacks 

  • Last month, experts found a game named "Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout," which contained malicious javascript API. It stole data from target players' discord and browser. 
  • In June 2020, around 1.3 million Stalker Online players' accounts were stolen and sold on the dark web later. 
  • In July 2020, a Nintendo leak revealed the game's details before they were officially launched in the market. 


The gaming industry now faces a bigger challenge to protect its community from the rising attacks. A proactive and multi-layered approach can help gamming companies protect their customers, along with products and services. However, gamers should be careful, too, avoiding re-use of the same password on other platforms.