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Netflix hit series Squid Game has led to various Squid Game malware apps flooding Google Play Store. Due to the severity of the risk, Google has banned Squid Game and has advised users to remove the app from their Android phones. 

After the hit Netflix series Squid Game – there are more than 200 Squid Game malicious apps available on Google Play Store. According to Lukas Stefanko, a malware researcher at ESET, an app called ‘Squid Game Wallpaper 4K HD’ was being used to spread dangerous software called the Joker Malware.

It was first discovered in 2019, and it could also sign up Android users for expensive subscriptions without user permission. It could also be turned into spyware, accessing texts, data, and contact lists.

“Running this app on the device might result in malicious ad-fraud and/or unwanted SMS subscription actions, altering Android users to the security threats.” – Stefanko.

Before the app was banned from Google Play Store, the ‘Squid Game Wallpaper 4k HD’ app has said to have more than 5,000 downloads. Therefore, if users had downloaded the app before it was removed from the Play Store, they are advised to delete the app immediately.

According to Stefanko, there are over 200 Squid Game apps still available on Google Play Store. One of the apps which are based on the Squid Game series Red Light Green Light game from episode one has more than one million downloads. The app itself isn’t malicious, but it’s a great way for companies to make quick ad revenue.

Response to Malicious Squid Game Apps

The malware containing the Squid Game wallpaper app containing the Joker malware has already been downloaded over 5000 times, meaning that a lot of Android users have already been exposed to the malware.

Android’s Google Play Store is less curated than Apple’s App Store, as developers can easily post anything with little to no resistance, as long as it’s not evidently illegal. New apps on Google Play Store do undergo automated checks for virus-like malicious codes, but cybercriminals are finding new ways to get around these checks.

While Google has deleted most malicious Squid Game apps, it has not made an official statement about the app’s damage or any change in the vetting process of new apps.

Tips to Stay Safe From Malicious Apps

Malware is a tricky one as it can be sent via email, apps, ads, and more. The same malware, Joker, was previously found on multiple apps of the Google Play Store back in June 2021.


According to security researchers, Joker malware usually spreads through wallpaper apps, scanner apps, and message applications. 

Here are a few tips and tricks for Android users to stay safe from malicious apps like Squid Game:

  1. Make sure to download apps from trusted platforms only. Even on Google Play Store, look for developer details and user reviews.
  2. Look for verified marks to tell the difference between fake and authentic apps.
  3. Keep the option ‘install from unknown sources’ disabled on your Android phone.
  4.  Use an Android VPN (virtual private network) with build-in malware trackers to scan your phone for malicious content.
  5. Be careful when allowing app permissions. 
  6. Use Anti-virus apps developed for Android OS like Norton Mobile Security, and McAfee Mobile security. There are VPNs that offer antivirus features as well that you can use to double security.