“Squid Game” is still going viral — and not in a good way.
With the “Squid Game” craze sweeping the globe, cybercriminals are scrambling to cash in on unsuspecting fans of Netflix’s hyper-violent hit Korean series. In the latest scam, discovered by a cybersecurity researcher, an app for SG-themed wallpaper — available in the Google Play Store — has been installing insidious malware onto people’s phones, the Sun reported.
“Seems like a great opportunity to make money on in-app ads from one of the most popular TV show without official game,” tweeted Lukas Stefanko, a malware researcher at the security firm ESET, who reportedly caught the app in the act.
The allegedly sinister application, entitled “Squid Game Wallpaper 4K HD,” was available alongside hundreds of applications based on the smash hit series. When downloaded, the technological Trojan horse would infect Android devices with Joker malware, which allows hackers to sign you up for premium services that they can profit from.
Stefanko had Tweeted that digital swindlers were using the app to conduct “malicious ad-fraud and/or unwanted SMS subscription actions,” meaning that compromised devices could be inundated with unwanted advertisements via text message.
The cybercrime fighter alerted Google to the scheme — but it had already been downloaded a whopping 5,000 times by the time they deleted it.
Unfortunately, “Squid Game” fans who installed the application prior to its deletion from Google Play continue to be at risk from malware. Techsperts advise people to remove the app immediately to nullify the threat.
Stefanko noted Google Play offers 200 apps based on “Squid Game” — which is being hyped as Netflix’s most watched show ever — with the most popular garnering 1 million downloads within 10 days.
Unfortunately, the show’s negative impact could be more than just digital. Psychologists say that that the dystopian series could impede young kids’ “social and emotional development,” encouraging them to turn a blind eye — or even join in — when others are under attack.
Earlier this month, a school in Belgium issued a warning following reports of students playing a dangerous “Squid Game”-inspired punching game.