In the days since Flappy Bird creator Dong Nguyen removed the beloved avian hero-themed mobile game from Apple’s App Store and Google Play store, a series of wannabes have flooded both stores.
While many of the ripoffs are harmless, security blogs are reporting that malware-filled versions of the game are popping up on alternative Android marketplaces.
On the surface, the malicious versions of the game look just like the original Flappy Bird, including the same app icon and gameplay. However, the infected apps are really trying to take over your device’s ability to send and receive text messages in order to rack up charges by messaging premium numbers.
“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,” security-intelligence blog TrendLabs reported. The infected apps are especially prevalent in alternative Russian and Vietnamese app markets, the blog said.
Sophos’ security blog Naked Security reported similar scams that try to trick users into messaging premium numbers by saying their “free trial has expired,” prompting them to activate the full version via text message.
“Remember that the original Flappy Bird was free, with no trial period or money to pay: The author made his money through ads presented by the game, not by selling the app,” the blog said.
Naked Security warned Android users to protect themselves by being extra cautious when downloading apps from alternative Android stores, and to install security or anti-virus software on their devices.
Android prevents users from downloading apps from third-party marketplaces by default; users can protect themselves by keeping this setting (found under Settings – Security) enabled.