Pokémon Go concerns? Security firms give conflicting opinions

Trend Micro says that users of the game are vulnerable to a threat where the creators of the game can read your emails since you have to sign in with your Google account


Pokémon Go has taken over the world by storm and while it has become a major concern for security, fans are going crazy trying to catch these pocket monsters via the AR-based game. A US Senator has also called for a probe into Pokémon Go with regards to privacy concerns. But security firms have conflicting opinions on the same - while Trend Micro says that Pokémon Go raises security issues, F-Secure says that these concerns have been blown out of proportion.

Trend Micro - Security threat is real

A recent report by global security software company Trend Micro says that users of the game are vulnerable to a threat where the creators of the game can read your emails since you have to sign in with your Google account. The reason behind this is that the game asks for full access to your Google account, something which is not on other apps and games.

The makers of the popular smartphone game have been forced to make fixes to the game since the app gives away an unprecedented level of access into players' personal lives. There is also a way to actually disconnect your Google account in case you are concerned about your personal info.

The risks have also gone beyond the digital world as just days after its release, Pokémon Go’s gameplay was linked to armed robberies as criminals used the game to locate and lure targets. There have also been reports of trespassing as players try to find Pokémon on others’ property especially in the US where trespassing can lead to physical harm from property owners who may use force to protect their property. Of course, there’s the risk of injury or death if one does not pay attention to ones surroundings when playing the game.

F-Secure - Privacy concerns are overblown

F-Secure's security advisor Sean Sullivan has stated that most stories talking about privacy concerns regarding Pokémon Go gameplay are quite hyped. According to F-Secure the permissiveness has more to do with Google's settings than Niantic's.

F-Secure admits that criminals are taking advantage of the app's popularity and exploiting Android's lax security standards as compared to the iOS app store to spread backdoor versions of the app. But this is also true of many other popular apps on Android. "This is why you should always stick to the official app stores and check reviews before downloading apps randomly," says F-Secure.

One search for Pokemon Go on the Play Store in India at the moment will throw up many fake Pokemon apps, which you need to be careful about.

A concern which the New York Times has raised is that the game's real-world nature gives Niantic a money-making possibility by partnering with commercial establishments to come up with sponsored locations where Pokestops can be created. These partnerships may lead to issues of sharing user data with ad partners.

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