GETTY • NINTENDO
Super Mario Run is not yet available on Android phones and tablets
Super Mario Run is coming to Android smartphones and tablets in March 2017.
But that hasn't stopped a number of versions of the platforming game springing up online ahead of the official release date.
Many users have taken to searching for an APK file for Nintendo's first Mario game on mobile.
For those who don't know, APK are install files – like .exe files on Windows – and let smartphone owners install applications and games on their Android devices without having to go through the Google Play Store. But be warned – Super Mario Run does not yet exist for Android.
Since Nintendo has yet to push-out Super Mario Run to the Google Play Store, these APK databases are almost always fake.
Shady websites claiming to have early – and free – access to the files are using the popularity of the game to trick people into downloading malware.
Similar scams occurred ahead of the release of Pokemon Go on Android devices in some regions.
According to security researchers at Zscaler, some of the most popular versions of Super Mario Run are actually the infamous Marcher Trojan in disguise.
HTC • ZSCALER
The shady versions of Super Mario Run request an enormous amount of permissions
The Marcher Trojan first appeared online back in March 2013 and tricks users into entering their debit and credit card account details into a fake overlay page that hands them directly to the cybercriminals.
These fake versions of Super Mario Run will request administrative rights to the device.
This enables the Marcher Trojan to monitor the phone and siphon your login data for – not just banking apps – but also for apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Gmail, and more.
Zscaler researchers have previously called Marcher "the most prevalent threat to the Android devices".
Marcher Trojan is currently available on all versions of Google's mobile operating system.
Super Mario Run screenshot gallery for Apple iPhone and iPad
Fri, December 2, 2016
SUPER Mario Run has a December 15 release date and a £7.99 price tag on Apple smartphones and tablets.
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Super Mario Run Apple iPhone/iPad screenshots
Vice President of Research for app security company Axran, Aaron Lint previously told GamesBeat: "As Nintendo’s second foray into mobile gaming with one of their lead franchises, Super Mario Run is immediately going to be a prime target for attackers trying to exploit its code – especially with the number of users which will be downloading this game.
"Just as with the previous smash hit Pokémon Go, we anticipate the appearance of corrupted fake apps used to spread malware."
The best way to ensure your device stays safe is to only download apps from the Google Play Store, or trusted websites.
Even when Nintendo finally releases its highly-anticipated Mario game on Android, it's very risky to download from a third-party site.
Hackers can inject additional code to an otherwise harmless game in an effort to compromise your data.
Of course, some users will take that risk just so that they can pirate the game without paying a penny.
Otherwise, Nintendo currently charges £7.99 to unlock all of the platformer's levels.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a cyber-attack, check out Express.co.uk’s guide on the next steps to take here.