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Hackers Using Minecraft Modpacks To Distribute Malware On Android Devices

By December 5, 2020May 5th, 2022Cybersecurity

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.

Jason Manteiga

Jason J. Manteiga, Vice President of Olmec Systems, has been part of the company for over the past 20 years. He believes that having a great work environment and supportive team, is the ultimate key to success. Since being in the IT realm for over 25 years, Jason, along with Olmec Systems, has been on the Inc. 5000 “List of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies” and Channel Futures MSP 501 “Top Managed Service Providers in North America,” along with other awards and nominations. Jason earned his Bachelor Degree in Information Systems from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He also holds certifications in Microsoft MCSE, VMWare VCP, and Cisco CCNA. In his spare time, Jason is a contributor for The Center for Social & Legal Research (Privacy Exchange) and a member of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce. His hobbies include cycling and kayaking. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife, two daughters and son.