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The name Tapsnake comes from the computer game Snaker, which has been revised such that the 'snake' responds to touchscreen taps by the user. The game is the front end of a trojan, spyware. An unsuspecting mobile device user is persuaded to load the "fun, free app," and then the person who wishes to monitor their movements must load a version which enables reception of location reports at 15-minute intervals.
The most recent incarnation is enabled by activating a pop-up ad on an otherwise innocuous website. The user then receives dire warnings as to what the virus may do to them, is offered protection at a price via download (to a mobile device), and is promised increased speed and performance as an additional perk. Android seems to be the operating system most targeted, though iOS attacks are also threatened. The actual game and embedded spyware do not seem to be present at all in this scenario, except in the form of a threat. Blog-advisors seem to agree that the safest course of action is to simply close the advert, 'clicking' on as few things as possible. The intent is to coerce to defraud, in this instance, and not to monitor movement.
- Android Tapsnake Mobile Scareware: Ads Push Antivirus, by Satnam Narang, at Symantec; published December 20, 2013; retrieved April 6, 2015
- Tapsnake Infection: Not Very Likely, by David Harley, at Information Security Magazine; published January 29, 2015; retrieved April 6, 2015