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‘Fortnite’ for Android could be a security nightmare – ANITH
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‘Fortnite’ for Android could be a security nightmare

‘Fortnite’ for Android could be a security nightmare

Fortnite, the year’s hottest video game, is finally making its way to Android devices. However, owners of those devices may want to proceed with caution. 

The game, for now, is available exclusively on Samsung devices through the company’s app store. But when the game opens up to all Android devices in the coming days, gamers won’t find the app in the official Google Play Store. Fortnite developer Epic Games has made a calculated decision to release the app on its own.

Because Fortnite for Android will be hosted by Epic Games and not Google Play, Android users will need to disable default security settings that will allow them to download and install third-party applications. Leaving this security setting off (as inevitably many will) will leave many Fortnite players susceptible to malware that harm their device.

Security experts have warned of the possible repercussions. Of Fortnite’s 125 million and growing userbase, many of them young teens, how many of them will cautious and security conscious enough to turn the security settings back on? And not just after the initial download, but for every update as well?

Malicious developers have already been targeting Android users looking to download Fortnite. The game is available on PC and Mac, home consoles like Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch, and even launched on iOS earlier in March for iPhone and iPad users. While a version for Android was in the works, malware creators preyed on those Android users looking for a game that, unbeknownst to them, had yet to be released for their device.

Internet security experts usually urge mobile phone users to only download apps from official stores like Google Play and Apple’s App Store. That’s easy to do if you’re a Fortnite fan with an iOS device. Apple doesn’t allow app downloads from anywhere but the official App Store on its mobile devices. However, for Android users, that won’t be an option. Fortnite won’t even be available for download on the Play store.

The reason the company behind Fortnite has decided to release the game on Android without the Play store is simple: money

Epic Games’ free-to-play multiplatform game just crossed the billion-dollar threshold thanks to in-game purchases where players pay upgrades to customize their characters. Epic has to share 30 percent of those purchases made on iOS devices with Apple due to the terms of the App Store. That 30 percent revenue cut is the same for Google Play. With the option on Android to release its app without going through Google’s official channel, they also skip having to give Google a slice of the in-game purchase pie.

Malware could infect Android users looking to play Fortnite in a myriad of ways. It can continue to come in the form of a fake version of Fortnite, much like the way malware was attacking those looking for Fortnite for Android well before it was released. Malware can also come bundled with the actual official Android version of the game downloaded from an unofficial third-party.

Even more concerning than the malware threat with just Fortnite for Android, however, is what this could mean for other app developers going forward. If Epic Games finds that the economic benefits outweigh any issues that arise from being MIA in the Play store, perhaps other Android video game and app developers will seek to go around Google, regardless of the security risk to its own users.

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Anith Gopal
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