You can’t attend Saturday morning soccer in Cambridge these days without seeing goal scoring kids swinging their arms around in what us parents know to be a dance called ‘The Floss’. It’s one of many dances from the game Fortnite which is the latest craze among kids (and not-so kids) all over the world. At my kids’ school last week I got to watch one boy who had learned probably every Fortnite dance for the Talent Show. It’s a big deal. Millions of people have downloaded it onto their phones or tablets to compete in Battle Royales, apparently (I’m one of those mean Mum’s who hasn’t let her son download it).
Controversially, Epic Games who released Fortnite, declined to pay Google 30% of it’s profits in order to access the safety of Google Play and now Google has found a big problem with the first installer Epic Games used. The installer only checked the file name was correct, and if so installed it. So all a hacker needed to do was rename their happy little package with the same name and hey presto, whatever they want is on your device. Viruses, spyware, malware, anything you like. Of course Epic Games fixed this within hours of realising their mistake but now you have to wonder what might be on your device.
So, what to do. The advice has been that you probably don’t need anti-virus protection on your Android phone or tablet because you’re downloading via Google Play, which like Apple’s App Store is supposed to be super secure and well monitored. That’s not 100% either but it is probably better than downloading things from elsewhere, as this example proves. However I doubt that this is anything to panic about. According to this article from Computerworld the risk is extremely low, even if you download outside of Google Play. And the thing that struck me about this particular announcement was who announced it – Google. The very company who had missed out on 30% of what must be an absurd amount of money when Epic Games refused to play by their rules.