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Flappy Bird dead, malware-clones coming?

flappy-birdDid you play Flappy Birds, the smartphone gaming sensation that caught the world’s imagination for a week, before disappearing from the internet? If you didn’t, but want to give it a try, you could get more than you bargained for.

Why? Because new versions of the game – recreated by different developers – are popping up around the internet, and some are undoubtedly containing malware.

While this instance only applies to smartphones (although you can play a clone of Flappy Birds online here: http://flapmmo.com/), the phenomenon of fake versions of a popular application is something both PC and phones users need to be aware of.

By now, we should all be somewhat aware that we can be infected by malware from fake websites. Any 21st century computer user with an email account will have certainly received an email from someone claiming to be their bank, asking them to provide their login details. With the Flappy Birds clones, it’s the same type of trick: fooling unsuspecting users into using a harmful, illegitimate version of a product.

As a rule, it’s very easy for criminals to imitate something on the internet. And while making a whole computer game is obviously harder than a website, it could also have a better payoff, as less people are aware that these clones could contain a threat.

For Flappy Birds, there are no legitimate copies of the game available on the internet anymore. Some websites may be hosting unhampered, secure versions of the game, or have even created their own, perfectly safe version, but none of these have the blessing of the game’s creator, who has said he no longer wants his game available for download. Therefore with no officially sanctioned sources, how do you know that the game you’re trying to download is the real thing, and not a malware-laden copy?

Unfortunately for anyone wanting to play Flappy Birds, there’s no steadfast rule for telling the difference between legitimate sources and those out to harm you. Just like shopping online, you could look for positive reviews, how long the site has been operating, or whether the site appears legitimate (for example, no spelling mistakes or design errors), but these are not guarantees, and we wouldn’t recommend using them as your only method for identifying a trustworthy website.

The truth is, just like a stranger’s car, you have no idea what could happen when downloading from a stranger’s website, and so you have to ask yourself: should I do this? In terms of sacrificing your security for Flappy Birds or another game, the answer is probably no.

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