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Security update: Gamers targeted by hackers

A recently released report from Kaspersky Labs details the growing threat to PC gaming by targeted malware.


Kaspersky Labs, a top international antivirus company, recently released a report detailing a massive amount of attacks on PC gamers. According to the report, nearly 11.7 million attacks on PC gamers were reported in 2103 with an average of 34,000 attacks per day by upwards of 4.6 million pieces of gaming-focused malware.

The focus of many of the 11.7 million attacks was centered on very specific countries. In Russia, gamers were targeted most with over 8 million attempts to steal information. The second most attacked gaming country was Vietnam with nearly 500,000, followed closely by China with almost 400,000 attempts.

According to Christian Funk, A senior Virus analyst with Kaspersky, "Gaming has an ever increasing fanbase, which means that the number of potential victims for cyber criminals is rising as well. Cyber criminals are putting a lot of effort into their attacks and we can see a surge in their sophistication. At times like Christmas, when a lot of new games are being released, gamers need to be even more attentive to stay secure."

Malware written to target games

According to the report, malware designers are specifically targeting games to focus their attacks on.

One example detailed malware designed to attack Minecraft users. The malware programmers built a tool that was touted to provide specific powers inside the game through a moddable application, but instead operated in the background of the user's computers recording account information.

Another example illustrated how a focus on a newly released game can attract malware designers. According to the report, malicious software was marketed to gamers as a free download of the popular game Grand Theft Auto V. When the gamers downloaded the files for the game, all they received was malware designed to steal account information.

The problem is an ever-increasing one. As highly anticipated games are released, targeted phishing scams increase. Gamers are lured by deep discounts and early access to their favorite new games and end up targets of malicious software.

Kaspersky suggests precautions

In the light of the increasing focus on gamers by malware and other targeted attacks, Kaspersky suggests follow these five tips.

  • "Don’t click through on any offers that look too good to be true, whether from your inbox or on social networks like Facebook or Twitter. If an offer comes through and looks legitimate, ensure the sender is trusted before hitting a link or handing over any details. If in doubt, contact the company the sender claims to be from."
  • "Use strong and varied passwords across your gaming accounts. As we've seen this year, gaming companies get hacked and logins are leaked. If you don't have different credentials, stealing one set could be a cybercriminal's key to open all your different accounts using that same password. Consider investing in a password manager, as it will give you simple, smart protection."
  • "Get a good quality anti-virus. With rafts of gaming malware out there, and the increasing sophistication of malicious software, you'll need some level of protection. You'll need AV that goes beyond signature-based detection to look at file reputation, if you want to stop the smartest malware getting on your system."
  • "Be careful whom you befriend. It's easy to make friends in virtual worlds today, but not all are doing so innocently. Beware of anyone who asks for your personal details, as they may want to do more than just contact you."
  • "Only download titles from legitimate sellers. If you're downloading an illegal copy of a game, you aren't just breaking the law. You also risk getting malware on your machine, as crooks often disguise game files as malicious software."
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