Since its release, Pokémon GO has become the most downloaded game in history on iOS and Android. However, Gemalto is now warning its millions of players around the world to stay safe and ensure they only battle fellow players’ gyms, not viruses and identity theft.
“Pokémon GO is targeted at children and young adults, and so a large amount of the data that is stored concerns potentially vulnerable members of society – making the need for secure storage incredibly important,” said Jason Hart, CTO Data Protection, Gemalto.
“Of course, it’s not just the storage of data that is a risk. As users download apps from unofficial sources and grant permissions to all their mobile operations, they open their devices to malware and viruses that can access and steal their data with ease. Users need to be made aware of the dangers of unofficial apps and why it’s important to only ever grant the minimum number of permissions on their mobiles. Developers should also ensure they protect app users, through encryption, two-factor authentication and proper key management solutions,” added Hart.
Top tips for Pokémon GO protection
1. Avoid unofficial apps
Before Pokémon GO launches in a country, demand is so high that many users side-load unofficial versions of the game onto their phones – bringing with them a wealth of malware and viruses. Users should never download apps from unofficial sources, as they aren’t scanned for viruses and can often cause critical losses of data.
2. Check what they are granting permissions to
Users should always be wary of what permissions they grant apps on their phones. Pokémon GO requires a large amount of potentially sensitive data to be sent to back to the game’s developers – name, age, email, location.
Should Niantic not have secured the data safely, or if it had been distributed to third parties, users could have experienced data breaches on a large scale. Players should always ensure they’re aware of what information is being shared, and question or refuse access to anything that is unnecessary or unsecure.
3. Don’t neglect personal safety
Since launch, the game has been plagued by stories of muggings, shootings and accidents caused by distracted users. Despite the app reminding users to stay safe, with so many players it seems almost impossible to guarantee.
To stay safe whilst playing Pokémon GO, users should avoid playing it alone, play in well-known areas and stay aware of their surroundings. As well as personal safety, thieves who are able to steal unlocked phones could gain access to a wealth of private information.