The gaming industry is so popular today that most people have already abandoned the idea of it being exclusively for kids and teens. And if there’s one thing that everyone is talking about these days it’s the battle royale style of game, a genre typified in titles such as PUBG, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 and perhaps the most iconic, Fortnite. The last of these is a true success story for gamers, a free to play mobile multiplayer game that still generated millions of dollars for its developer Epic Games thanks to in-game content that can be bought with real money.
But not everything is fun and games, though. On top of cybercriminals creating fake apps that spy on players and steal from them, there are other dangers for unaware young Fortnite players.
Building a Fort Around Your Device
Just like in the game, players should gather the resources to help them build the best defense against real-life dangers and enemies. In addition to honest apps designed to help Fortnite players, there are other fake ones that arise only to expose people to real dangers and privacy invasions, and so arming yourself with knowledge of these criminal tactics is the best way to avoid them.
The practice of reproducing forged counterparts of the most popular apps is not exclusive to gaming as cyber criminals do it with all types of content. The rule tells us that the more popular a certain app is, the more fake ones are created to fool people and infect their device. Their creators even go as far as to use the same descriptions and images of the official apps to erase any doubt of its legitimacy. The result is a fake app that only differs from the original in its publisher, a field that many people don’t pay close attention to when downloading from the app stores.
In the case of Fortnite and other mobile games, cyber criminals take advantage of the fact that they’re mostly played by a young, unaware public that will happily and blindly install anything that is even remotely close to the games. For example, people can pay real money to have more content on the official Fortnite app and many of these forged apps mimic that, claiming that they can generate the in-game currency called ‘V-Bucks ’ only to spy and attack anyone that falls for it. Even worse, we’re talking about children who likely don’t have their own devices and are therefore bringing all this danger to their parents’ devices and online accounts.
Parents whose kids play Fortnite on their phones should be aware of what apps they are installing and the excessive, alarm-raising permissions required. In this case, these apps don’t do what’s expected of them and instead pose a real threat to privacy and security. Some of the most common and dangerous permissions that criminals often want access to includes the device’s camera and GPS location, modification of the system’s settings, installation of packages, and the reading of text messages and phonebook contacts.
Other apps either directly install Trojans and other malware on the device or go even further and force people to take part in these scams. For instance, apps can mimic an apparent error with the installation, requesting an email address to which the ‘team’ can respond to once the issue has been solved. Obviously, there’s actually no error and not to be solved, since this serves only to gather as many email addresses as possible to later sell on the dark web or use for phishing purposes.
Other Fortnite Risks For Children
Being a cautious parent and thoroughly knowing which apps your kid is using is half the battle in achieving a safe gaming environment, but safeguarding your kids from the dangers of online gaming doesn’t stop there. For instance, Minecraft, Fortnite and many other popular games among today’s youth allow players to chat live with each other either via text or voice. While most kids will naively use this to cooperate in game or even make friends, child predators could always be lurking on the other side.
Within Fortnite’s settings parents can access and disable several audio features including voice chat, which is an increasingly necessary measure. According to a study by the Crimes Against Children Research Center of the University of New Hampshire, 20% of the children on the internet already received a sexual solicitation or approach, a fact that – among other alarming results – shows that the internet is one of the main ways for predators to target potential victims.
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