The simplistic and straightforward Flappy Bird defied all odds and became one of the most popular games of early 2014. The sudden discontinuation of the app has disappointed millions of fans. But where there is disappointment, there is cybercrime potential.
The single-player game conquered the mobile gamer’s hearts with its simple “Super Mario” type of gameplay, which has always proved to be compelling. Despite earning over $50,000 a day in in-game advertising revenue, the game was discontinued.
“I am sorry Flappy Bird users; I will take Flappy Bird down. I cannot take this anymore,” Dong Nguyen, the Vietnam-based developer of the game, announced via his Twitter account last week. This is where the cyber-criminals come into the picture.
Flappy Bird will go down as one of the most viral mobile games of all time, despite the fact that its interface had very little “eye-candy” to offer. The arcade game involved navigating a tiny bird through a wide range of obstacles and keeping it safe for as long as possible. Losing focus was not an option, probably the secret behind the game’s success.
As mentioned above, Flappy Bird is no longer available for the iOS or Android mobile platforms. The game was taken off the Apple App Store and the Google Play on February 10. But fake versions of the game are now doing the rounds in underground markets and websites, spreading dangerous malware and infecting hundreds of phones worldwide.
While fully playable, the rogue Flappy Bird has a catch. Users who activate the fake game on their device get a “Trial Version Has Expired” error and are asked to text message a “Premium Number” to activate the game. The “bad guys” can then abuse the compromised mobile account to send out large amounts of messages for their own profit.
Infosec researchers are warning users, especially employees using company-supplied phones, to refrain from using unauthorised clones of the now-extinct game. The pirated versions are currently very popular in Russia and Vietnam, but obviously are being played all over the globe. Users should only use official apps and not tamper with the secure software of their smartphones. Mobile Security has to be taken seriously to avoid data breaches and privacy theft.