If you’re an avid gamer, you’re almost certainly at least passingly familiar with Minecraft, and you may be an active player. Despite its blocky, simplistic graphics, it’s the most popular game of all time. It is very prevalent on the internet.
If you play on an Android device, be aware that hackers are now exploiting the game’s popularity to install adware on systems.
They’re doing this by finding ways around Google’s strenuous checks and getting fake Minecraft Modpack apps listed on the store.
Name recognition alone has lured more than a million people to install these poisoned apps. The apps are actually just empty shells that don’t include any Minecraft mods at all, but simply install annoying adware that makes using your Android device virtually impossible thanks to the endless parade of full screen advertisements that pop up, often as frequently as once every two minutes. Every ad that gets displayed puts money in the attackers’ pockets.
Researchers at Kaspersky detected the operation, but it took a while because the hackers used bots to give their apps fake five-star reviews, which served to counter the understandably low rankings from actual users.
To add insult to injury, simply deleting the app from your menu screen won’t actually remove the adware. To do that, you have to take the time to go into the Apps menu under device settings, which is a step that often gets overlooked. That means even after a user deletes the offending app (or thinks he has) ads continue to be displayed, making the attackers even more money.
Once Kaspersky discovered the campaign, Google took swift action and removed the offending modpacks from the Play Store. However, If you’re a fan of the game, and you’re seeing an inordinate number of ads recently, this is quite likely the reason why.