Niantic’s Pokemon Go is one of the most popular smartphone games ever released. More than 10% of daily Android users play the game just a few weeks from launch. But with a trail of traffic accidents, falls from cliffs and a denial of service attacks in its wake, many people ask, “What are the risks of associated with Pokemon Go?”
This is an important question for business owners who must be concerned not only with their own personal safety, but also the safety and security of their employees and networks.
Pokemon Go: Limiting Your Risk
Pokemon Go is fun to play but can present a few risks. These include physical safety risks, privacy concerns and the risk of introducing malware into your network.
- Physical safety: Players wrapped up in trying to catch Bulbasaur or Pikachu may become unaware of their surroundings. Since launch, there are reports of game players causing accidents, walking off cliffs into the Pacific Ocean, - one was even arrested for trespassing on a military base while playing the game. Enterprising criminals have even attempted to rob players at popular Pokestops, or using in-game lures.
- Privacy concerns: One of the major concerns with Pokemon Go is privacy, due to the signup process for downloading the app. There are two options available: signing in with a Nintendo username, or using an existing Google account. The Google option allows the game developer Niantic access to your Google email address. The game also uses GPS to track each players’ whereabouts, meaning that your personally identifying information may be visible to the developer, hackers and other players in the area.
- Network security: For business owners, network security is one of the most critical issues with Pokemon Go. Security firm ESET identified three malicious Pokemon themed apps within the Google Play store. These include lockscreen hacks that can lock you out of your device, and apps that contain “DroidJack,” malware that opens a backdoor for hackers on Android devices.
Ensure your personal safety and security while playing Pokemon Go with these recommendations:
Be Aware: Always be aware of your surroundings when playing the game. Avoid wandering the city streets alone in search of Pokemon, especially after dark. Never play Pokemon Go while driving. Playing on foot during daylight hours and using the buddy system is your best bet. Safety first!
Protect Your Privacy: Use a "dummy" Google account to protect your privacy, or use a Nintendo account. Avoid playing in locations where you do not want to be tracked.
Don’t Download Unofficial or Third-Party Apps: If you or your employees download the game, make sure it is the official Niantic Pokemon Go app. Avoid Pokemon-Go themed third-party apps and tutorials, as some may contain malware.
Pokemon Go is fun to play and is catching on as a cultural phenomenon. Before you play, understand the risks.
If you think Pokemon Go or a related app may have compromised your smartphone or mobile device, or if you have other questions about your network security, contact us below.