Pokémon Go a 'security risk' to your phone

Pokémon Go has been deemed a “security risk” after leading players into armed robbers and naming a Hell's Angels clubhouse as a place to “catch em all”.

The Pokémon Go game allows players to “travel between the real world and the virtual world” and is rapidly gaining popularity across the globe.

The game has already added $10 billion to the developer's parent company Nintendo in two days.

Pokémon Go has become the top grossing app in the iPhone app store just days after its Wednesday release in Australia, New Zealand and the US. Photo: Supplied
Pokémon Go has become the top grossing app in the iPhone app store just days after its Wednesday release in Australia, New Zealand and the US. Photo: Supplied

As part of the journey, players are sent to Pokéstops and PokéGyms - which are easily to locate landmarks - to collect valuable items to "catch" cute Nintendo characters like Squirtle and Pikachu to battle one another for supremacy.

The "augmented reality" game has skyrocketed since the app hit Australia, New Zealand and the US and after four days of it being on the market, its number of daily active users has surpassed Tinder and nearly overtaken Twitter.

Although intriguing, the app isn’t running as smoothly as anticipated as Yahoo7 unveils an alarming number of problems arising.

The Pokémon GO game allows players to “travel between the real world and the virtual world” and
The Pokémon GO game allows players to “travel between the real world and the virtual world” and


In one chilling case, Pokémon users were told to gather at the Hell's Angels headquarters for New Zealand’s Whanganui chapter as a battling landmark.

In another nerve-racking situation, players have been sent to a dubious Pokestop at the back entrance to Sydney’s heroin clinic located in King Cross.

Immediately upon the game's release, police in Darwin asked players not to waltz into their station, which is a Pokestop in the game.

Darwin Police Station (left) and the Hell's Angels headquarters (right) were two alarming landmarks featured as a “Pokestop” and Hell Photo: Facebook
Darwin Police Station (left) and the Hell's Angels headquarters (right) were two alarming landmarks featured as a “Pokestop” and Hell Photo: Facebook

"You don't actually have to step inside in order to gain the pokeballs," the Northern Territory Police Fire and Emergency Services says on its Facebook page.

Not only are users questioning where the app gets its geographical information from, upon signing up iOS users are unwittingly giving permission to access their entire Google account, able to leak personal data.

Once an account has been granted access, the company has reportedly been able to read and send emails, modify most information on Google accounts, access photos and documents stored in Google photos and search an individual's Maps navigation history.

It is even able to pay with Google Wallet on your behalf.

Players are sent to Pokéstops and PokéGyms -  which are easily to locate landmarks - to collect valuable items to
Players are sent to Pokéstops and PokéGyms - which are easily to locate landmarks - to collect valuable items to

Blogger Adam Reeve claims he is a security expert working at RedOwl and has deleted his account because the setup is too risky.

Pokémon Go was created by app developer Niantic and Reeve claims they shouldn't be able to access Google accounts because the two are no longer linked.

"Niantic were part of Google, they were spun off last year and are now a separate company," the company wrote. "There’s no reason for them to have access to my data stored at Google anymore."

He goes on to say most apps are only allowed access to contact lists and photos, not whole accounts.

Although Reeve has flagged the incident as a "security risk", he believes the developers aren't using the permissions for anything other than logging people in.

"I obviously don’t think Niantic are planning some global personal information heist," he wrote adding it may be "the result of epic carelessness".

A man, believed to be a security expert, has flagged the Pokémon Go app as a
A man, believed to be a security expert, has flagged the Pokémon Go app as a

However, the security expert says he has still revoked their access and deleted the app because its not "worth the risk".

In addition to the app being considered a “security risk”, thieves are reportedly luring in players to and robbing them at gunpoint.

O’Fallon Police Department in the US put out a warning on Facebook after the suspects, aged from 16 to 18, were found inside a vehicle while in possession of a handgun, shortly after responding to reports of an armed robbery.

The teenagers were allegedly responsible for multiple armed robberies both in St. Louis and St. Charles Counties and apparently used the app to lure and locate players before robbing them.

Officers believe the thieves used bait to attract Pokémon to certain locations and then lured in unsuspecting fans to remote places such as empty parking lots to then rob them.

Meanwhile a number people are suffering from physical injuries while catching some "pocket monsters".

Mike Schultz, a 21-year-old communications graduate on Long Island, New York, took a spill on his skateboard as he stared at his phone while cruising for critters.

Mike Schultz crashed his skateboard while playing Pokemon Go. Photo: AP
Mike Schultz crashed his skateboard while playing Pokemon Go. Photo: AP
Lindsay Plunkett tripped over a cinder block that had been used as a doorstop while playing Pokemon Go. Photo: AP
Lindsay Plunkett tripped over a cinder block that had been used as a doorstop while playing Pokemon Go. Photo: AP

He cut his hand on the footpath after hitting a big crack, and blames himself for going too slowly.

"I just wanted to be able to stop quickly if there were any Pokemons nearby to catch," he says.

Lindsay Plunkett, a 23-year-old waitress in Asheville, North Carolina, tripped over a cinder block that had been used as a doorstop at a local women's museum

But Plunkett has pointed out an upside to the game as she will be travelling cross country to California with a friend to discover Pokestops and Pokemons.

She also parks six blocks away from the restaurant where she works, instead of the usual three. "Just so I could get some more Pokestops on the way," she says.

Another positive is players meeting face to face, despite the fact they arrived at nearby high schools, water towers and museums by staring at their screens.

Also the game is failsafe - you can't hatch digital eggs while driving because it requires slower in-person movement in the real world.

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