Pokemon Go is a 'huge security risk'

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Pokemon Go Craze Raises Privacy and Safety Concerns

In case you haven't noticed yet, this year's biggest gaming craze is sweeping the nation!

Armed with smartphones, scores of gamers are now roaming the streets, hoping to find and catch little mythical creatures that seem to inhabit the nooks and crannies of the real world.

We're talking about Pokémon Go, of course - the new gaming app from Niantic Labs, which takes Nintendo's massively popular Pokemon video game out to the physical world.

Using your phone's GPS location tracking, Google Maps data, gyroscope and your camera, Pokémon Go generates virtual creatures around your real world space, superimposing them on your phone's camera viewfinder via augmented reality technology. The object of the game is to find and collect as many of these Pokémon creatures and amass "experience points" to make them stronger.

The game is largely unchanged from the old and current console Pokémon games, but now has a modern twist. Players must now physically travel around to track down and capture the virtual creatures.

So how popular is Pokémon Go? Really popular. Since its release on July 6th, Pokémon Go has been downloaded more than Tinder, and is set to overtake Twitter in daily active users. Now that's huge!

It is officially a viral hit among kids, millennials and nostalgic old-timers alike. But, there have also been reports of injuries, trespassing and police warnings against the dangers of the game.

Physical dangers aside, how about the security of the app itself?

People playing Pokemon Go:

15 PHOTOS
People playing Pokemon Go
See Gallery
People playing Pokemon Go
Nintendo Co.'s Pokemon Go is displayed on a smartphone in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. Pokemon Go debuted last week on iPhones and Android devices in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, letting players track down virtual characters in real locations using their smartphones. Nintendo is an investor in Niantic Inc., the games developer. Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
PORTLAND, ME - JULY 11: Monument Square, Portland, was a hotspot of activity for the Pokemon Go 'augmented reality' game Monday evening. From left, Shellbe Flynn, Jordan Regios (mostly hidden) and Elizabeth Hook. (Photo by Michele McDonald/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JULY 11: Mary Baker, 18, plays the mobile game Pokemon Go as she walks through the Public Garden in Boston, Mass., July 11, 2016. (Photo by Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
PORTLAND, ME - JULY 11: Kaelyn Kespert, 10, of Scarborough, plays Pokemon Go at Deering Oaks Park. (Photo by Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 11: Medical student Jag Chilana plays Pokemon Go on his smartphone at Union Square, July 11, 2016 in New York City. The success of Nintendo's new smartphone game, Pokemon Go, has sent shares of Nintendo soaring. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
David Melendez (C) uses three phones as he plays the augmented reality mobile game "Pokemon Go" by Nintendo in New York City, U.S. July 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
Theodore Belizaire plays the augmented reality mobile game "Pokemon Go" by Nintendo in Times Square, New York City, U.S. July 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
Jerimie Nason (C) plays the augmented reality mobile game "Pokemon Go" by Nintendo as people pass him on the street outside Grand Central Terminal in New York City, U.S. July 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
A virtual map of Bryant Park is displayed on the screen as a man plays the augmented reality mobile game "Pokemon Go" by Nintendo in New York City, U.S. July 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
Theodore Belizaire plays the augmented reality mobile game "Pokemon Go" by Nintendo in Times Square, New York City, U.S. July 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
The augmented reality mobile game "Pokemon Go" by Nintendo is shown on a smartphone screen in this photo illustration taken in Palm Springs, California U.S. July 11, 2016. REUTERS/Sam Mircovich/Illustration
Leo Mesquita (R) and Jean Suplicy (2nd R) play the augmented reality mobile game "Pokemon Go" by Nintendo as they walk away from the Chrysler Building in New York City, U.S. July 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
Theodore Belizaire pumps his fist after catching a Pokemon in the augmented reality mobile game "Pokemon Go" by Nintendo in Times Square, New York City, U.S. July 11, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
Pokemon Go is displayed on a cell phone in Los Angeles on Friday, July 8, 2016. Just days after being made available in the U.S., the mobile game Pokemon Go has jumped to become the top-grossing app in the App Store. And players have reported wiping out in a variety of ways as they wander the real world, eyes glued to their smartphone screens, in search of digital monsters. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Experts are saying the game could be a big security risk, at least for now. You see Pokémon Go uses two methods to sign up. The longer method is by signing up for a Trainer Club account via the game's website. The other method is by linking your Google account to the game through the app itself.

The issue is with the "full account access" permissions granted to the iOS app upon signing up with a Google account. Allegedly, this means the developers of the game could now fully access your Google account data, including reading and sending emails on your behalf, opening and deleting your Google drive documents, viewing your private Google photos and searching data, among other things.

According to Google support, "apps with full account access can see and modify nearly all information in your Google Account (but it can't change your password, delete your account, or pay with Google Wallet on your behalf)." Full account access should only be granted to applications you fully trust, it added.

But Niantic Labs responded to the allegations by saying that Pokémon Go only accesses basic Google account information and no other type of data has been collected. It is attributing the full account access permission of the app to a technical error and is working on a client side fix to patch the problem. This is great news for Pokémon Go fans.

So if you are a Pokémon Go gamer but you are still apprehensive about these app security allegations, what should you do?

Downgrading Pokémon Go's Google account access:

If you linked your Google account, you will have to revoke permissions to the Pokémon Go app by visiting your Google account settings page. From there, click on "Connected apps & sites" under "Sign-in & Security". On the next page, click "Manage Apps" and you will see a list of your connected apps and their access level. Just click on Pokémon Go and select "Remove".

If you wish to play Pokémon Go again before Niantic officially releases the fix, you can sign up for a Pokémon Trainer Club account. Keep in mind, though, that starting a game with a new Trainer Club account will wipe your Google Account game progress.

If you happen to have an Android device, another option is to relink your Google account using the Android version of the app. This is because the full access error only affects iOS devices that are connect to a Google account.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners