Squid Game app scams infecting devices on the back of huge popularity


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Scams built on the popularity of the Squid Game show have been infecting Android users. One app in particular has been particularly malicious. Here’s what to look out for

The massive popularity of the Netflix show Squid Game has been noticed by cybercriminals. They are now busy crafting Windows and Android scams and malware to take advantage of the show’s appeal.

Many of the malicious files pretend to be episodes of the show or related animated clips. These then lure in people who don’t have Netflix accounts to watch the show or who just can’t get enough Squid Game.

With 111 million viewers and counting, scammers have started to smell blood in the water, and Squid Game-themed scams and malware have begun to appear online.

The majority of the scams are simple Trojan downloaders that install other malicious programs. But scammers are getting creative in other ways, too.

A range of scams and apps inspired by Squid Game

Squid game scam spin offs range from Halloween inspired downloadable art to games to other types of smartphone apps. Reports of shortages of Squid Game Halloween costumes have created more demand. Fraudulent retailers are then springing up offering just such items and having a field day.

The most prominent and dangerous instance has been a Squid Game themed Android Joker.

This is a new variant of the Joker premium-SMS malware in the Google Play App store. Running this app on device can result in malicious ad-fraud and unwanted SMS headaches.

This is hardly the thing consumers need as SMS scams continue unabated in Australia at the time of writing.

The Joker malware is not new and has been around for some time. But riding off the back of Squid Game’s popularity may well give it a “new lease on life”.

The app was installed some 5,000 times before it was taken down from the Google Play Store. It will no doubt re-emerge in some other variation soon.

In one of the more pernicious scams, victims are shown an animated version of the first game from the series. Simultaneously, a Trojan is launched that steals data from users’ various browsers and sends it back to the attackers’ server. A shortcut is created in one of the device folders, which is used to launch the Trojan every time the system is started.

What to do if one has downloaded the app

For now, Google seems to be doing a decent job in removing harmful apps from the Play Store. But users who have installed the malware should immediately uninstall it from their devices.

To avoid being infected by or lured in by Squid Game scams, don’t download or install anything on a Windows PC that offers to show you pirated episodes or show-related games.

On Android, stick to the official Google Play store and don’t get apps from other sources.

Finally, make sure you’re running some of the best Windows 10 antivirus programs and one of the best Android antivirus apps.

We have previously written on what to do to protect yourself from trojans, malware and phishing scams. Many of the tips we mentioned there are just as relevant today – this useful guide should help anyone in that regard.

Ahmed Khanji

Ahmed Khanji

Ahmed Khanji is the CEO of Gridware, a leading cybersecurity consultancy based in Sydney, Australia. An emerging thought leader in cybersecurity, Ahmed is an Adjunct Professor at Western Sydney University and regularly contributes to cybersecurity conversations in Australia. As well as his extensive background as a security advisor to large Australian enterprises, he is a regular keynote speaker and guest lecturer on offensive cybersecurity topics and blockchain.


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