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Google launched a 'Fortnite Task Force' after Epic skipped the Play Store

The task force apparently rushed to disclose a security flaw in the Fortnite sideloading process.

Published onNovember 16, 2021

POCO F2 Pro Fortnite in game
  • Google launched a Fortnite Task Force after the game skipped the Play Store in 2018, Epic claims.
  • The task force apparently rushed to disclose a security flaw with Fortnite’s sideloading process.

Epic Games made a decision that Fortnite would skip the Play Store back in 2018, arriving on the Galaxy App Store at first. It now turns out that this move may have spurred the creation of a ‘Fortnite Task Force’ within Google.

Details of the task force emerged in a legal filing made by Epic this week (h/t: Bloomberg), citing internal Google documents. This task force was apparently formed in 2018 and is said to have met daily in a bid to address Fortnite skipping the Play Store.

More reading: How to install Fortnite on Android and iOS

It’s claimed that Google’s task force took advantage of a possible security issue for users sideloading Fortnite. The filing asserts that Google gives an app maker 90 days to address a security issue like this but that the search company disclosed the issue to “friendlies” in the media within nine days.

“Instead, disregarding the security of users, Google rushed to ‘get the word out,'” read an excerpt of the legal filing, according to Bloomberg. Epic further claimed that Google’s move was done in order to “deter developers from launching outside of Google Play and maintain Google’s monopoly over Android app distribution.”

An honest disclosure or dirty tactic?

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney confirmed at the time of the disclosure that it had released an update to fix the issue, but that Google refused to hold off on revealing the flaw until the update was more widely installed.

Interestingly enough, Google’s own head of Android security purportedly noted in an email that the company’s warning regarding the vulnerability “really does seem inappropriately dire.”

In any event, Google has responded to Epic’s claim, acknowledging that Fortnite on Android was released with a security flaw that could compromise user data.

“Safety and security are our top priorities, so of course we took steps to warn our users about this security flaw, in accordance with our App Security policy,” a spokesperson was quoted as saying.

Google’s own app security page does indeed note a 90-day window before a vendor’s vulnerabilities are disclosed, although it reserves the right to move this date forward or backward in “extreme circumstances.”

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