Currently Kaspersky Lab knows 4.6 million pieces of gaming focused malware, with an average, users of 34,000 attacks related to gaming malware taking place daily.
Russian gamers were the worst hit of all, as hackers made 8,813,050 attempts on them from 1st January to December 2013. Vietnam was in second with 503,947, followed by China on 376,058.
“Gaming has an ever-increasing fanbase, which also means that the number of potential victims for cyber criminals is rising as well. The cyber criminals are taking a lot of effort into their attacks and we can see the upsurge in sophistication. Especially in times like Christmas, when a lot of new games are being released, gamers need to be attentive stay secure” Christian Funk, Senior Virus Analyst, Global Research and Analysis Team, Kasperksy Lab, said.
Underground forums are ridden with cyber crooks selling access to people’s gaming accounts, such as the portal and marketplace Steam.
The market for usernames and passwords is fuelled by attacks on the gaming companies themselves.
Earlier this year, Kaspersky Lab detected a major espionage campaign on a range of massively multiplayer online games makers, with source code and other valuable data stolen.
Malware types target specific games, such as the popular Minecraft. Earlier this year, a fake Minecraft tool built with Java promised to give the player powers such as banning other users, but was stealing usernames and passwords in the background.
When Grand Theft Auto V landed earlier this year, various sites offered fake downloads to access the record-smashing game for free. But when users tried to get the game, they received malware – a classic example of powerful names getting abused to lure victims into downloading malicious code.
Then there are typical scams, like phishing. Slews of emails are sent around every time a big gaming launch happens, and at Christmas, attempting to lure users into handing over data or money with the promise of discounts or cheap gaming goods.
Here are Kaspersky Lab’s top five tips for gaming security:
- 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 does come through that looks legitimate, ensure the sender is trusted before hitting a link or handing over any details. If in doubt, contact the official 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, getting one set stolen means all your different accounts using that same password could be compromised. Consider investing in a password manager, as it will give you simple, smart protection.
- Get a good quality anti-virus. With the rafts of gaming malware out there, and the increasing sophistication of the malicious software, you’ll need some level of protection against it. 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 who you befriend. It’s easy to make friends in virtual worlds today, but not all are doing so innocently. Beware 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’re risking getting malware on your machine, as crooks often disguise game files as malicious software.