Don’t download the game Fortnite: Battle Royale, Android users.
The year’s most popular video game (which made almost $300 million last month) is currently available on all major gaming platforms except for Android. So of course, malware developers have noticed and are taking advantage of the vacuum by creating fraudulent Fortnite apps for Android devices.
The malicious developers typically earn money when an eager player downloads the fake apps, which is a common hoax that malevolent developers use whenever there is a lot of hype surrounding a video game’s release.
The legitimate Fortnite: Battle Royale for Android is slated to go live this summer, but in the meantime, antsy gamers are finding phony (read: malicious) downloads online through search engines. It’s important to note that the fake apps are not available in the Google Play Store, so the tech giant can’t do anything about the issue.
A simple search of “fortnite android” yields dozens of how-to videos on YouTube, and multiple of the tutorials even have millions of views. They typically lead people to download one of two seemingly genuine APK files (the format for Android-compatible apps), and the malware appears as an app with the same icon as the iOS version.
After the apps are downloaded, the “game” at first appears legitimate with images and icons ripped from the iOS version of Fortnite (including the logo of its developer Epic Games), and leads users through a promising-looking set of screens: a loading screen, updates, an automatic login page, and a mobile verification step.
That’s where things get messy.
The apps then lead unwitting users to a website that asks them to verify that “You’r Not A BOT” by downloading another app, and the link leads to an “unlock instructions” screen. This cycle then repeats for those still vying to get the app and haven’t figured out that this is a scam.
To prevent yourself from falling prey to one of these phony apps, you should only download apps hosted in the official Google Play Store or Apple App Store, where they are vetted and safe. Happy gaming!