It’s down to the wire — you and two others are fighting for survival in a technicolor dreamworld. The storm is coming inexorably closer to Fatal Fields, and all you have to protect yourself from your opponents is a pump shotgun and a lone boogie bomb. Faster than your Twitch viewers can comprehend, you throw together a lofty fort in the hopes of spying your rivals from above — but now your game is freezing; your whole computer is freezing and crashing, and it’s Fortnite’s fault.
Defying all expectations, Fortnite has become the game of the year, played by more than three million gamers concurrently and attracting all sorts of media attention. Earlier this year, Fortnite released a mobile version that allows players to participate in their favorite battle royale on-the-go. While this popularity and growth is mostly good for Fortnite lovers, who can expect the game to continue churning out high-quality content for at least a few more months, it has shown itself to be a double-edged sword. Now, cybercriminals are taking advantage of Fortnite to spread malware — and most Fortnite players have no idea.
What We Know About Fortnite Malware
In truth, Fortnite itself isn’t responsible for the rash of malware afflicting dedicated players; rather, it is Fortnite lookalike apps in Android stores duping players into downloading malicious code. As yet, all other major gaming platforms offer ways to get into the fast-paced, somewhat-goofy battle royale game of the year (including iOS), but release of the Android Fortnite app has been delayed until later this summer. To fill the vacuum, black-hats have produced a number of fakes, many of which are surprisingly convincing. Eager to get their mobile hands on the game, users are downloading the fraudulent files and apps with abandon — only to find their devices quickly compromised.
After the malware-laden Fortnite app is downloaded and installed, users might not recognize their mistake at first. The apps tend to show legitimate images from the game, including an app icon identical to the iOS version and loading screens, login pages mobile verifications also copied from iOS Fortnite. Unfortunately, all of these steps only feed more information to the cybercriminals behind the apps. Worse, the identity verification step demands users download another app, which steals more data and imbeds more malware on the device.
This isn’t the first time malicious developers have used the popularity of an app to scam mobile users. There are copycats of most famous mobile games, including Angry Birds and Minecraft, and there are also dangerous and fake versions of other standard app services, like antivirus and cloud storage. Google Play and the App Store have rigorous vetting processes to prevent malicious apps from staying live for long, but the duplicitous Fortnite apps are not located on Google Play, so there is little Android can do to stop their spread. Instead, Fortnite players — and anyone with a mobile device — need to do their own utmost to keep mobile play safe.
How You Can Stay Safe and Play Fortnite
Unfortunately, Android users will need to wait for the official release from Epic Games to play on mobile — or else invest in an Apple product ASAP. Still, regardless of what type of device you use to play Fortnite, you can work to make your mobile experience safer right away and prevent your sessions from unwanted malware-backed interruptions.
Making your gaming PC safer is relatively easy. Right now, you can download and install the best PC protection available, which will scan your machine for signs of infection, quarantine any potential threats and repeat the process periodically to keep your computer clean. Most security suites also come with browser protection, so you can avoid navigating to unsafe sites and pages, and you might also look for software products that offer encryption and backup services.
As for your mobile devices, your choices aren’t as limited as you might expect. Attacks on mobile devices are increasing every month, but users are doing little to protect their smartphones and tablets the same way they defend their computers. It is possible to procure similar antivirus programs for your smaller devices, but you should always do so through reputable app providers, like the App Store or Google Play. In fact, that advice should be applied to any app purchase; the vast majority of viruses on mobile devices come from third-party app providers or jailbroken tools.
Though the lack of a definite release date may be daunting, you won’t have to wait long to play Fortnite on Android. In fact, you can almost guarantee your invite by registering on Epic Games’ official site and waiting patiently for acceptance to play on mobile — without any risk of malware.