SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Korea Bizwire) – Last month’s Korean launch of Niantic’s Pokémon GO has put law enforcement agencies on high alert, mainly against trespassing and Pokémon GO driving, and officials are now advising players to also take heed against cybercrimes.
According to the Korean National Police Agency, extra apps that can help players to make faster progress in the game could be a gateway to various crimes, including the leak of private information.
Some of the most popular features offered by such apps include location sharing of rare types of Pokémon, and manipulating a smartphone’s GPS to visit certain places virtually without having to physically travel to the sites.
Officials claim that the majority of these apps require unnecessary access to personal information stored on the phone, which could in turn leave players highly vulnerable.
There are currently 44 applications related to Pokémon GO available to Korean players on the Google Play Store, 19 of which request access to at least 10 smartphone features, the agency said.
“Personal information obtained by the developers that does not serve the app’s original purpose can be misused for illegal purposes. This is why players need to take extra precautions when they choose which access requests to agree to,” said a KNPA official. “Those who have already installed the apps either need to remove them or block the access granted through the smartphone’s settings.”
Other concerns expressed by the agency include the distribution of malicious code, fraud, and hacking.
The agency recently brought to light an “auto bot” program, for running the game on personal computers to hunt for Pokémon automatically, that was capable of collecting Google account and password information.
Officials have also came across malicious code disguised as Pokémon GO APK files, while online communities are seeing more highly suspicious posts requesting money in return for Pokémon GO accounts, auto bot programs, or help leveling up the Pokémon.
For obvious reasons, the police are warning against those offering such services, and are promoting preventive measures against potential cybercrimes related to Pokémon GO via SNS and the crime-prevention application CyberCop.
“We’re doing our best to raise awareness of potential harm, including urging Pokémon GO communities to also partake in our efforts.”
By Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)