Fake Fortnite App Installs Hidden Bitcoin Miner
Fortnite for Android is a very different beast compared to other games on the platform. Epic Games made a strong stance that they don’t want to pay the Google Tax. This is the automatic 30% cut of Google for the profits made by an Android app published in the Google Play Store. As Android enables users to sideload apps, by enabling the “Unknown Sources” option in the Settings page, Epic Games released Fortnite as an APK installer package instead. This effectively bypass the need to publish Fortnite in the PlayStore, with one major caveat, they have instructed the users to sideload the app, something that Google discourages.
Sideloading apps is a boon for power users, as it gives them flexibility in rolling-out apps whenever and wherever they go. All the while, this is a bane for a regular Joe or Jill user, as irresponsible sideloading of APK files exposes users to malware in Android. Epic Games has been warned many times about this key aspect of lowered Android security for their users, just to install their app but their goal of not having to pay Google is preferred more.
Cybercriminals have taken note of the weaknesses of players, as they have uploaded fake Fortnite APK files all over the web. The fake app has a very nasty payload, a Bitcoin miner is embedded with the Fortnite APK app they release, and it is already infected many Android devices at the time of this writing. The news of a Bitcoin-miner loaded Fortnite fake app has been reported by the mainstream antimalware firm, Malwarebytes.
“First, we sifted through a sizable mish-mash of free season six passes, supposedly ‘free’ Android versions of Fortnite, which were leaked out from under the developer’s noses, the ever-popular blast of ‘free V-Bucks’ used to purchase additional content in the game, and a lot of bogus cheats, wall hacks, and aimbots,” explained Malwarebytes in their report.
The virus authors are making a profit out of the fake app, not just through the Bitcoin-miner, it contains. The player also needs to click a series of advert links prior to downloading the APK file, which generates revenue with the volume of clicks done by the unsuspecting users believing that they are downloading a legitimate Fortnite app from unknownsite.com.
Malwarebytes also found several Youtube videos discussing Fortnite and hyping it up while providing a download link of the fake Fortnite APK in the video’s description. This is a clever way for the threat actors to lure people into installing their malicious app instead of the genuine Fortnite APK which can only be found at Epic Games’ official website.
“While this particular file probably isn’t that new, it’s still going to do a fair bit of damage to anyone that runs in. Combining it with the current fever for new Fortnite content is a recipe for stolen data and a lot of cleanup required afterward,” added Malwarebytes.
Illegal content has been the bread and butter of the cybercriminal community to penetrate the user’s devices. The promotion of Epic Games’s Fortnite Android as a sideloading APK package normalizes the use of sideloading instead of usually installing an app via Google Play Store. Users not aware of the dangers of installing apk files from a random website will be in a huge trouble, especially with identity theft and also virus infections.
Julia Sowells960 Posts
Julia Sowells has been a technology and security professional. For a decade of experience in technology, she has worked on dozens of large-scale enterprise security projects, and even writing technical articles and has worked as a technical editor for Rural Press Magazine. She now lives and works in New York, where she maintains her own consulting firm with her role as security consultant while continuing to write for Hacker Combat in her limited spare time.