Angry Bird space cadets beware of viruses

The newest edition of the hugely popular game franchise Angry Birds was released on March 22. This release saw the game downloaded over 10 million times in the span of three days. Angry Birds in Space is on track to rival the popularity of the first game in the series which is now up to 300 million downloads.

Make sure you do not have a sick angry bird. Graphic by Laura Bramble.

However all is not good news for Rovio, the developer of Angry Birds because a fake version of their game has surfaced on some unofficial Android markets. This fake version of Angry Birds in Space, while it appears to be the full version of the game, is a virus. This virus once downloaded infects a users Android smartphone or tablet and attempts to download other malware to allow the person behind the virus to hijack a user’s device.

The company that discovered these phony copies of Angry Birds in Space is Sophos, a web security firm. The virus has been dubbed Backdoor.AndroidOS.KungFu.kg. The current prevalence of the virus is pretty low since it only affects a few unofficial Android markets.

Android users experience a level of freedom that many Apple users do not. This freedom allows them to download apps from non-approved stores. This makes Android devices open to much more creativity, since apps do not need to go through Apple’s process of being approved before they can be downloaded. This has partially been done on purpose since so many carriers have their own version of market places distinctly made for their users.

With this freedom, though, comes the need for added vigilance. While Apple controlling their market place in someways limits the freedom and creativity of its developers, it also provides a layer of protection for its users. This layer of protection is not always perfect, but it certainly would prevent users from accidentally downloading malicious apps.

Rovio has released a statement encouraging users to download from their official market place if they want to be sure they are getting the genuine product. For many this discovery comes too late, as their devices have been affected by the virus, meaning they require a complete reset of their Android device. Sophos, the firm that first discovered the virus, has released detailed instructions on how to remove it from Android devices. The instructions can be found here.

It is important that Android users keep a watchful eye out for such malicious software. While they have more freedom in what they can download and run on their devices, they also face greater risk. When downloading something as popular as Angry Birds in Space, the best bet is to go to the official store; the more popular a title, the more likely there will be those out there willing to use that popularity to scam users.