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According to new data, the epidemic and subsequent lockdowns have resulted in a significant increase in the number of individuals playing PC games in their spare time, which has resulted in a substantial rise in threats directed towards PC gamers. In new research, Kaspersky claims to have prevented more than 5.8 million attacks in the year leading up to the end of Q2 2021 (June), including malware and other undesirable programmes masquerading as popular PC games.

The majority of the attacks were downloaders disguised as game installers that, when triggered, downloaded and installed malware or peddled adware on the host PC. Backdoors that offer hackers access to a victim’s machine or Trojans that steal valuable data and hoover up sensitive financial information such as online banking logins or credit card numbers were among the malware in the mix, as expected.

According to Kaspersky, mobile gamers were also targeted for malware deception, which collated statistics using attacks disguised as the top 10 mobile games and the top 24 PC games. Minecraft is the worst offender on both the PC and mobile platforms. Therefore, it appears hackers are trying to spoil the future of mobile gaming also. The game’s many versions and large number of mods make it an excellent target, according to Kaspersky, providing plenty of opportunities to package something terrible. Minecraft was responsible for 3,010,891 attempted infections prevented by Kaspersky during the year.

Of course, all of this is nothing new. When we go back in history, the Morris worm in 1988 was the first cyber attack. The first computer worms were disseminated via the internet. The 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act resulted in the first felony conviction in the United States. It was created by Robert Tappan Morris, a Cornell University graduate student. He allegedly launched the worm out of curiosity while attempting to quantify the size of the internet.

Some of the most significant gaming attacks in history include:

Capcom – Capcom, a Japanese video game business, was recently in the news for all the wrong reasons. The company was hit by ransomware in November 2020, allegedly by the Ragnar Locker gang, and has had difficulty dealing with the crooks. According to rumours, the fraudsters started the bidding with eight digits of blackmail, wanting $11 million in cryptocurrency.

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Nintendo – Nintendo reported in June 2020 that 300,000 accounts had been hijacked. The firm initially announced that 160,000 accounts had been hacked after customers’ Nintendo Network IDs were used without authorisation in April, but by the middle of June, the company stated that the actual number of accounts had nearly doubled. Hackers were able to not only utilise account owners’ money to buy virtual currency for Fortnite, but they could also see birthdays, home addresses, and email addresses, as well as access other Nintendo payment services. As a result, customers were advised to review their purchase history for unauthorised transactions and obtain refunds.

You’re probably asking, “How does this continue happening?”. Cisco Talos, a security firm, has found a campaign where attackers hide malware inside otherwise regular files. Gamers and modders (those who like to modify hardware and software) frequently download these files to install cheat codes or make game modifications. This campaign uses crypto, a program that hides harmful code so that security software can’t detect it. To conceal the malicious material, the crypto uses Visual Basic 6 and shellcode and process injection techniques. As a result, security experts unfamiliar with VB may have difficulty dissecting these files.

Cisco Talos described this attack as a “return to a classic viral campaign.” Many players enjoy obtaining cheat codes and tweaks to improve or alter their gameplay. As a result, the attackers are hiding and deploying malware to infect their victims utilising gaming and OS modifying tools. Cisco Talos claims to have discovered several minor programmes that appear to be game fixes, changes, or mods but are backdoored with malware masked by the crypto. Attacks like these don’t always necessitate extensive skills or understanding on the part of the cybercriminal. There is a wealth of information on obfuscation techniques available on the internet. In addition, cryptos are simple to use and inexpensive.

Many of these infections result from phishing efforts, so be cautious and use common sense when clicking on links that appear in your browser, on social media, or in emails or other messages. Always keep in mind that if a game offer seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is. Of course, using one of the top antivirus applications is a good idea because if the unthinkable happens and you end up with a malicious download, a good antivirus will hopefully detect it and prevent it from accomplishing whichever nefarious task it was designed to do.

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