If your children have played Fortnite, you need to know about a new mobile scam involving fake Android apps masquerading as Fortnite. Unofficial versions of the game reportedly install malware which steals your money and personal information and track, record, and spy on your children.
What Is Fortnite Battle Royale?
Fornite Battle Royale is a free online multiplayer video game developed and released by Epic Games. Thanks to its cartoonish art and competitive, yet lighthearted gameplay, this completely free game is one of the most popular video games in the world.
Fortnite has officially been ported to:
- Consoles (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch
- Mobile devices (iOS and Android)
However, the Android port was released several months after the iOS version. Android is generally more difficult since wildly different versions of the operating system exist. Epic Games spent those extra months ensuring the app ran well on all versions.
What’s the Threat?
Cybercriminals took advantage of Fortnite’s hype and the Android versions delayed release by uploading fake Fornite Mobile apps.
Fortnite is based on unique skins, dances, and other accessories, and Epic Games is constantly releasing new ones. Players collect v-bucks to buy these skins, which puts them at risk from this scam.
Once installed, the fake apps included sketchy Android apps containing malware. Others requested access to a user’s personal information, contacts, and camera access. Hackers used these unofficial apps to track users’ locations, monitor their calls, and spy on them through the camera.
There are an estimated 4,700 fake websites looking to scam victims by promising them free v-bucks. ZeroFOX Research claims that 53,000 alerts for Fornite scams were reported between September and October.
Fornite Mobile Is Out – Is This Even an Issue Now?
Despite the Android release being live, the fake apps are still out there and pose a major threat for several reasons:
- Users may not be able to tell the difference.
- The scam versions are rather convincing. Some steal official screenshots from the iOS app to appear genuine.
- Many of them are still advertised on popular platforms like YouTube despite legal action by Epic Games. Links to malicious downloads can be found in the description of many fake Fortnite videos.
What Can I Do to Keep My Children Safe?
First, this is just one example. Fortnite is by no means the only potentially harmful app your kids might access. Talk with your child about this and other potentially malicious apps, games, and activity.
Look for the Common Signs of Malware
Your device may be infected if it suffers from:
- A lack of responsiveness
- Faster-than-usual battery drain
- Dropped and disrupted calls
- Unusually high data usage bills
- Generally strange behavior
Not only is malware a threat to your security, but it also uses your device’s resources while it’s installed.
Consult the Game’s Publisher Prior to Downloading an App
Epic Games will always announce changes to Fortnite Mobile on their official website and social media accounts. Any other app should be considered potential malware.
This should be the case for any game developer operating in the mobile market. Many game publishers’ websites contain download links leading to the official Google Play listing.
Only Download from Official Sources
Only use the official Google Play Store for sourcing Android apps. Apps installed as APK files outside of the official Store aren’t always trustworthy. While Android enthusiasts enjoy its open platform, general users are better off sticking to the Store.
Read the Reviews
Reviews can tell you a lot about an app. If you’re unsure, compare the positive and negative reviews and be on the lookout for fake reviews.
- Do other users mention possibilities of adware, malware, or viruses?
- Do any reports talk about security vulnerabilities or privacy snooping?
- Are the reviews overwhelmingly positive?
Watch for App Permissions
Every app has a certain set of permissions it requests upon installation. The Store entry goes into detail about what an app wants. Check to see if they make sense, or are overly intrusive. Again, this is a good idea for every app you install, not just a popular game. A flashlight app, for instance, has no reason to access your device’s contacts or camera. Risky and unnecessary permissions are a sign that the app is spyware.
Get a Mobile Antivirus
Much like desktop computers, Android phones need antivirus protection. Several options include Avast Mobile Security and Trend Micro Mobile Antivirus. Occasional scans help keep you and your phone safe.
Take some time to research antivirus options. Some antiviruses offer extra features like anti-theft, call blocking, Wi-Fi analyzers, remote locking, and two-factor authentication.
For more information on the best Android antivirus programs, check out our detailed list.
Update Your Version of Android
Keep your Android operating system up to date, as new versions contain security patches that protect against newly discovered threats and exploits.
Check Your Security Settings
In Settings > Security > Unknown sources on your Android device, uncheck “Unknown Sources” to prevent the installation of anything other than apps from the official Play Store. Some websites might try to install malicious apps when you visit the site on your phone.
Since you can’t look over your children’s shoulders every time they use the smartphone, these security settings are a convenient way to set barriers on your child’s activity.
Common Sense Is Your Best Defense
If you know your child is playing Fortnite, make sure it is the official release. Get an antivirus app immediately if you detect that they have been playing an illegitimate version. Their device is likely compromised and you need to clean it as soon as possible.
We’ve talked extensively about the best Android antivirus programs in the past. We recommend you check them out if you want to improve the security of your child’s phone.
Looking to learn more? Check out some of our past posts on mobile antiviruses:
- 9 Best Antiviruses for Mobile Devices – Most Secure in 2018
- What Is Spyware and How Can I Protect Myself Against It in 2018
- 5 Best (REALLY FREE) Antivirus programs for Android in 2018
There’s no reason to keep your kids from enjoying highly-rated, well-known games, but you must do your part to keep them safe online.