Hackers are attempting to cash in on the record-breaking popularity of Apex Legends, according to researchers who uncovered a fake app posing as an official mobile version of the new video game.
Cyber security firm Check Point discovered what it believes to be the first malicious app of the free-to-play battle royale game, which is currently not available as a download for Android or iOS devices.
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Since launching just over a week ago, Apex Legends has attracted more than 25 million players, prompting comparisons to the viral success of Fortnite. Both games feature similar objectives and gameplay, though Apex Legends is not distributed on as many gaming platforms.
Unlike Fortnite, Apex Legends can only be played on a PC, or consoles like the PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
But the fake app calling itself Apex Legends is actually an adware downloader, researchers found, meaning the people behind it earn revenue through online advertisements shown to the victim. However, the researchers warn it could also be used to download malware or other more sinister content.
"This campaign leverages the success of Apex Legends and the high demand for a mobile version of this game to distribute itself," a Check Point researcher told The Independent.
Cyber criminals behind the campaign are also supporting it through supposed 'tutorial' videos for Apex Legends on YouTube that lead to links to the malicious app.
It is not the first time such tactics have been used to capitalise on a game's popularity, with fellow battle royale sensation Fortnite proving to be a magnet for criminals.
Check Point also saw similar campaigns with the augmented reality-driven mobile game Pokemon Go, which was released in 2016.
"We have witnessed similar tactics with other popular online games previously, such as fake 'guide apps' for Pokemon Go which claim to be game walkthroughs," the researcher said.
"Users should be wary of these too-good-to-be-true offers, especially on mobile devices."
A spokesperson for Respawn Entertainment, the game studio that developed Apex Legends, was not immediately available for comment.
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