Flappy Bird Flies The Coop While Malware Moves In To Roost

If you're willing to accept at face value Flappy Bird developer Dong Nguyen's public stance on why he removed the popular title from iTunes and Google Play, then perhaps a bit of kudos are in order, even if you don't agree with his decision. It's not often that you see a sense of responsibility trump the almighty dollar, and in this case, that's what happened to some degree (he's still making money off of in-game ads by those who already downloaded the game). Nguyen cited user "addiction" as the reason he pulled the game offline, and assuming that's true, there's an ironic twist that's developing. While Nguyen may have wanted to do gamers a solid by removing his game, numerous clones have taken Flappy Bird's place, and some of them are laden with malware.

In essence, would be addicts still have access to the same game mechanics -- Splashy Fish is a decent alternative on iOS, as are several others -- only now they run the danger of running up expensive phone bills. How so?

Gamers looking for an exact Flappy Bird clone have taken to off-market app installs. As you know, the chances of running into a malicious application is much higher outside of Google Play, and that's exactly what's happening here. According to security outfit Sophos, there are plenty of infected clones in the wild, some of which try and trick the user into sending an expensive SMS message.

Fake Flappy Bird
This is one example of a fake Flappy Bird app that's malicious. Source: Sophos

"Remember that the original Flappy Bird was free, with no trial period or money to pay: the author made his money through ads presented by the game, not by selling the app. The imposter pretends to be a trial version that has expired; all you need to do is send an SMS to reactivate it," Sophos states.

That's not all these malicious clones do. Some will continue to run in the background after you've seemingly exited the game. Depending on what permissions you agreed to grant the program, you may quickly regret not having downloaded the real Flappy Bird before it was pulled.

As always, be careful of what you download, where you're downloading from, and what permissions apps are seeking.