‘Pokemon GO’ Brings Unity To Many, But A Backdoor Hack To Android

Pokemon GO took the world by storm this week when it launched, on July 4 in Australia and New Zealand, and on July 6 in the United States. Other countries are going to be waiting a touch longer, however, to get in on the augmented reality Pokemon game.

Notoriously, Pokemon GO has been experiencing significant server issues that manifest as crashes, freezing, and the necessity to re-log in every hour or so. For people with long passwords, the process is roughly as annoying as whichever politician you dislike the most right now.

With server issues the way they are, it’s going to be a while before Niantic Inc. can expand their release to the rest of the world. In the meantime, residents in areas that have Pokemon GO have been playing constantly. So much so that many publications, like Forbes, have been publishing articles urging local businesses to accept players into their shops by utilizing nearby poke stops.

One of the best thing about Pokemon GO is that it has succeeded in getting people out and exercising more often. There’s a meme going around social media that says it all. That meme notes that Michelle Obama has been working to get people out and exercising for eight years, but Nintendo did it in twenty-four hours.

The meme is, of course, followed up by the Pokemon GO hashtag.

At all hours of the day and night, people are wandering around with their phones in hand. The scene at eleven o’clock at night in the middle of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn was that of twelve different small groups walking in different directions and calling out to each other.

“Did you get the Squirtle in Caesar’s Bay?” One group would ask, while another pointed out that there was a Growlith not long ago a few blocks away.

Pokemon GO has not only gotten people out of the house and moving, it’s also become a conversation starter on a path toward unity in some cases. People that have never spoken to each other, will notice Pokemon GO is being played and share a tip or a smile.

In a time when there are mass shootings, terrorism, and an incredibly polarized election, Pokemon GO is giving people something to bond over that transcends race, political beliefs, caste, and even age.

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, however.

Whenever you have an app as popular as Pokemon GO is, there are bound to be people waiting to take advantage of the situation.

[Photo by Selina Leavitt]With the news that Pokemon GO will be missing its initial worldwide release date, comes the knowledge that hackers are attempting to take advantage of the situation.

People with Android phones that found a way to download an Android application package file (APK) containing a third-party version of Pokemon GO will need to check and make sure they did not get the version that was modified with malware.

One of the APKs being passed around to people not yet eligible for Pokemon GO has been modified with something called ‘DroidJack,’ which is a backdoor that allows the hacker responsible to control the phone it’s installed on. The app is nearly identical to the official Pokemon GO app, except that it requests a significant amount of bogus permissions.

Pokemon GO will ask for certain permissions, such as access to your images and videos as well as the ability to track you via GPS. All of that is normal. However, the fake Pokemon Go app that’s infected with the DroidJack backdoor will ask for extra permissions. Some of those permissions are: record audio, directly call phone numbers, edit/read/receive/send text and SMS messages, modify your contacts, etc.

Proofpoint explains, in depth, how to find out if you accidentally installed the fake Pokemon GO app.

Where Pokemon GO is concerned, the benefits seem to outweigh the faults. Even with reports showcasing strange occurrences linked to the game, such as in this article by 6ABC.

Just remember to be vigilant when you play and don’t catch and drive.

[ Photo by TK Kurikawa/Shutterstock ]