Be warned parents and Android users: If you download “Fortnite” on an Android device, you’re installing a fake app from a malware developer.
Fortnite is this year’s hottest video game with over 125 million playing the role-playing game on consoles, computers, iPhones and iPads. The downside is it still isn’t available to purchase from the Google Play Store, meaning millions of Android users cannot play the game on their phone.
Sensing a huge opportunity, hackers and malware developers have released dozens of fake Fortnite games that install spam or malware on any phone running it and it was easy to do.
Let’s say a video gamer with an Android device really wants to play Fortnite like his iPhone carrying friends. They go to YouTube to search for a secret download code or information. There are dozens of YouTube videos with instructions and a link where anyone can download a fake, install it and get ready to play.
When I checked YouTube Monday morning I saw videos being uploaded nearly every hour and most had thousands of views. Some, with well over 100 thousand people watching. They all displayed a link where someone could download the game without going through the Google Play Store.
What happens when a fake app is installed is that the user gets prompted to download other games first. In one fake app, the user is prompted to download a game and play it for 30 seconds before getting the link to download Fortnite. When that game is played they’re prompted to download and play another one. Then another and another. Some YouTube creators report never being able to play Fortnite but continue down the rabbit-hole of more downloads and more games and apps.
Malware developers get paid by the number of downloads they get from the other app developers.
The takeaway for parents and other antsy-Android users is to never download a game or app to an Android phone without going through the Google Play Store. Unlike iOS apps, anyone can develop a spammy or malware-infested app in the Android operating system and release it anywhere on the internet.
Epic Games promises an Android version of Fortnite is coming this summer.