Cyber Threats Exploiting Pokemon Go Popularity

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pokemon threat up aheadLike most popular software, Pokemon Go has quickly become a magnet for cyber criminals. Within just a few days of its launch, the hottest mobile app today has already become the target of DDoS and malware attacks.

For those who have been living under a rock, Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game that runs on iOS and Android. Using the phone screen and camera as its main tools, Pokemon Go allows players to search and capture virtual critters – known as Pokemon – in the real world in real time. Once captured, Pokemons can be trained and brought into battle.

The game’s innovative use of augmented reality, which blends elements of a virtual world with the real world, has enthralled millions of users. Sadly, this extremely high level of activity also attracts individuals with malicious intent. There have been reports of players being robbed when they have wandered off to catch Pokemon or engage with other players.

Since Pokemon Go is first and foremost an app, threats are not limited to the brick-and-mortar world. There are cyber threats too. Two threats that have gained considerable attention are a DDoS attack and a malware attack.


DDoS attack on Pokemon Go servers

A DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attack was targeted at Pokemon Go login servers on the weekend beginning July 16. This prevented users from logging in to play the game. Two hacking groups have already claimed responsibility for the attack(s). The first group calls themselves OurMine, while the second is known as PoodleCorp. The latter was even bold enough to tweet about the event right before it happened:



While some people believe the server crashes were simply due to the overwhelming influx of users, PoodleCorp has already issued a threat that seems to imply a bigger attack on August 1:



That’s just right around the corner, so we’ll see what happens.

The folks at Niantic (Pokemon Go’s developers and publishers) have ample time to set up contingency measures, so if some considerable downtime still takes place on that date, PoodleCorp must be on to something.


Pokemon Go Malware

Cyber crooks are hitting Pokemon Go on both the server and client fronts. Earlier this month (July 2016), Google removed a fake Pokemon Go app known as “Pokemon Go Ultimate” after researchers at ESET flagged the malicious app.

Pokemon Go Ultimate was capable of locking your phone’s screen after starting up. The app wasn’t designed to be ransomware, but because there was no way to unlock the phone. Users were forced to remove their phone’s batteries in order to restart. The problem was, that upon rebooting, the app would continue running; this time in the background. While running, the app would simulate user clicks on porn ads in a manner similar to Hummingbad.


Possible impact on business cyber security

While DDoS attacks on Pokemon Go servers might have little to zero impact on business’ cyber security, the possible impacts of Pokemon Go related malware are worthy of attention. Some employees might become too enthusiastic with the game and start downloading apps or visiting websites that appear related to the game.

If those apps or websites turn out to be malicious, the phones used to download them could end up getting infected. Those phones can then be a threat as soon as they connect to your network.

Learn more about mobile threats and how to prevent them from invading your network. Contact us now.

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