Harmful Squid Game malware on Android infects phones with malicious ads

(Image credit: Getty Images)

With Netflix's hit survival drama Squid Game being the streaming service's most popular series, threat actors are taking advantage of the show's acclaim by hiding malware in themed Android apps.

Available on the Google Play Store, the malicious app named "Squid Game Wallpaper 4k HD" was tricking unsuspecting users into downloading a sneaky Android trojan known as Joker that could infect smartphones and devices with "malicious ad-fraud and/or unwanted SMS subscription actions," according to security researchers. 

Spotted by cybersecurity analysts Re-ind and ESET malware researcher Lukas Stefanko on Twitter (via CyberNews), the app has been downloaded at least 5,000 times via the Google Play Store.

According to Forbes, the app has now been taken down, but Stefano states that there are still more than 200 Squid Game-themed apps. Since the trending Netflix series does not have an official app, threat actors can use this to their advantage on the Play Store. 

(Image credit: Twitter / Lukas Stefanko)

Despite Google Play Protect, Android apps can be a huge cybersecurity risk. Recently, cybersecurity researchers discovered that Google's security software detected only 31% of spyware threats on Android devices, failing to recognize 20 out of 29 malicious apps in a recent security application test.

Earlier this year, cybersecurity researchers discovered 13 Android apps that potentially left over 100 million smartphone users and developers vulnerable to malicious attacks due to their private data being exposed.

It's always a good idea to stay away from unofficial apps on any device. If you're looking for added protection, check out the best VPN services around. 

Darragh Murphy

Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from washing machines designed for AirPods to the mischievous world of cyberattacks. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for gadgets into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. With a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from The University of Sheffield, along with short stints at Kerrang! and Exposed Magazine, Darragh started his career writing about the tech industry at Time Out Dubai and ShortList Dubai, covering everything from the latest iPhone models and Huawei laptops to massive Esports events in the Middle East. Now, he can be found proudly diving into gaming, gadgets, and letting readers know the joys of docking stations for Laptop Mag.