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Flappy Bird clones flood app stores, present malware risk

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Flappy Wings

The app world loves a good bandwagon. Once a game hits it big, it's just a matter of time before imitators arrive. And when the developer of the original game stops selling his product, the feeding frenzy really goes into overdrive.

That’s exactly what’s happened with Flappy Bird, the game that took the app world by storm overnight only to leave just as quickly. A flood of dodgy Flappy Bird-like apps has taken its place, however, exposing users to some potential security issues.

Security firm Sophos says it has found several malware-infected versions of the game in so-called 'alternative' Android markets -- app stores that aren't authorized by Google, but are still often frequented by users. Clone versions of the game in those same marketplaces are raising concerns as well.

The bogus apps can access your phone's SD card, send and receive text messages on your phone and install shortcuts without your knowledge, which allows others to copy content from your phone (such as your user ID and pictures) or gain control of it entirely.

Clones downloaded from the official Google Play store or Apple's App Store should be safe, though, as they're required to go through an approval process before being made available.

And boy, are there a lot of them. Clumsy Bird, Flappy Doge, Ironpants...the list goes on and on and on, though some are better than others.  Our current pick? Maverick Bird by Terry Cavanagh, the creator of Super Hexagon. It's abstract and crazy looking and fun, sort of.

Some rather high-profile fans are cloning it, too. The rock band Fall Out Boy, for instance,  announced plans to release their own tribute to it -- "Fall Out Bird" -- in the coming days.

"Rome wasn’t built in a day, but this game was," the band said in a blog post. "In the spirit of Fall Out Boy Trail, we bring you Fall Out Bird. Coming this week to Google Play and The App Store (as soon it’s approved). Shoutout to the OG Flappy Bird, RIP." No word on whether the app will feature the band's music as well as the familiar, infuriatingly difficult gameplay.

Sesame Street has gotten in on the act as well with “Flappy Bert,” which stars the famous unibrowed puppet and, of course, a pigeon. Is nothing sacred?

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