4 out of 5 Flappy Bird clones contain malware

Many Flappy Bird clones are full of fowl malware - and there’s nothing poultry about what it can do either, according to cybersecurity experts McAfee Labs. broadbandchoices takes a beak…

Four out of five Flappy Bird clones are riddled with malware, a new study by cybersecurity research source McAfee Labs has revealed.

If you cast your mind back to long, long ago to February, you'll recall Flappy Bird fever spreading across the world. The simple, but highly addictive, smartphone game - which tasked players with guiding a bird through gaps between pipes - struck a chord with players. It was a phenomenon.

Albeit a short-lived one. Its developer, Vietnamese student Dong Nguyen, pulled the game from app stores later that month, claiming he was uncomfortable with the effect his game was having on the addicted.

That left a big Flappy Bird-shaped hole in app stores, and developers weren't slow to fill it with clones. And app development being something of a wild west, many of the clones aren't what you'd call friendly.

McAfee Labs investigated the various ways cybercriminals pinch data from smartphones, and found cloned apps was one of the biggies. It tested 300 clones of Flappy Bird - sporting such imaginative names as Fly Bird and Flappy Penguin - and found that 79% of them contained malware.

Some of the problems caused by said malware included making calls without the phone owner's permission, stealing contact data, tracking the phone's location, and in some cases, gaining complete control over it.

Vincent Weafer, senior vice president for McAfee Labs, said: "We tend to trust the names we know on the internet and risk compromising our safety if it means gaining what we most desire.

"Mobile malware developers are playing on these inclinations, to manipulate the familiar, legitimate features in the mobile apps and services we recognise and trust. Developers must become more vigilant with the controls they build into these apps, and users must be more mindful of what permissions they grant."

We completely agree - it always pays to be vigilant when downloading apps, particularly those developed for an open system like Android, as they don't have to conform to certain standards like those developed for Apple devices. Stick to app stores you trust and read reviews before downloading anything. And if you're not sure an app is safe, err on the side of caution and avoid it.

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Have you downloaded any Flappy Bird clones? Addicted to the original? Let us know in the comments.

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