Pokemon GO is fast becoming a popular app across the globe. (Gareth van Zyl, Fin24)
Smartphone gaming application Pokemon GO has taken the globe by storm, but the app has digital and real-world risks.
The game - which is currently only officially available in the US, Australia and New Zealand - taps Pokemon’s story of players searching the world for “pocket monsters” to train and battle.
The app further uses augmented reality to allow gamers to wander their surroundings and unlock new Pokemon characters via location tracking on their Android or Apple smartphones. The app is yet to be officially released in South Africa but this hasn’t stopped locals from downloading via a variety of sources.
Meanwhile, concerns have been raised about children (and even adults) landing up in dangerous places or situations as a result of the game.
Subsequently, Carey van Vlaanderen, who is the CEO at cyber security firm ESET Southern Africa, has five tips on how to play the game safely.
Download only from reputable app stores
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are already malware-laden versions of Pokemon GO floating around. And these most definitely will not be the last such stories we hear. So stick with the Apple and Google app stores, and choose only the ones with more downloads than just about every other app in the world.
Don’t be tempted to look elsewhere for the file if you encounter slow-downs caused by a large number of downloads. If you are in doubt, Android users can scan the file with reputable anti-malware software.Do not sign in with Google
Another difficulty caused by too many simultaneous downloads is that people have been unable to sign in directly through the Pokemon site, so the game’s developers added the ability to sign in with your Google account. The problem with this is that in the initial iOS version, this gave the app astounding levels of access to your Google account.
The latest version addresses this, but using any secondary site like Google, Apple or Facebook to login comes with privacy considerations you should weigh before agreeing.
Bring a buddy, stay in public places
Stories are already starting to come in about children wandering off and getting lost going places they are not supposed to. Kids should be accompanied by an adult, and adults should bring another responsible adult.Bring an extra battery
The Pokemon app is quite the battery-vampire. This, combined with wandering off to places you may not know, can put you in a sticky situation. It is a good idea to bring a spare battery in case of an emergency.
Travelling in numbers does not really ensure you won’t play while driving, cross the street without checking for traffic, or loiter creepily outside of people’s homes. Virtual monsters are not worth life and limb – or getting arrested. So don’t let the excitement of the game lure you into doing something you will regret.