Netflix’s Squid Game centers around a shady organization promising people the chance to win big, but at a high cost if they lose. Now a real-life effort operating in the shadows is similarly bilking people with an insidious app based on the hit show, NY Post reports.
The app in question — lurking on the Google Play Store — is for installing a Squid Game-based wallpaper, but with the cosmetic upgrade comes insidious malware being installed on people’s phones as well.
“Seems like a great opportunity to make money on in-app ads from one of the most popular TV shows without an official game,” said malware researcher Lukas Stefanko in a Tweet. Stefanko, who works for the firm ESET, reportedly caught the app in the act.
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The app is called Squid Game Wallpaper 4K HD and it allegedly infects Android devices with Joker malware, something that allows hackers to profit off of its users by signing them up — involuntarily — for premium services.
If you’re not familiar with Squid Game, it’s the Korean survival drama that Netflix has declared to be its biggest series launch of all time.
The show centers on people on the brink of financial ruin who get recruited by a shadowy organization into a macabre contest. The 456 competitors have a chance at winning a series of children’s games for a life-changing sum of $38 million. But the catch is, if they lose, they die.
Stefanko tweeted that the app sends compromised devices with a flood of unwanted ads via test message, in a practice he called “malicious ad-fraud and/or unwanted SMS subscription actions.”
By the time Google was alerted of the Trojan horse app and deleted it from its store, it had already been downloaded 5,000 times.
All nine episodes of Squid Game are on Netflix now.