Gaming Industry: Next Target For Cyber Criminals
Illegal copies and pirated versions of video games were the previous dominant form of illicit activities. Trends in online gaming platforms have created new possibilities for cybercriminals to gulp huge amounts of money from an industry that is worth nearly $100 billion. And what’s sad is that publishers are not the only targets; the players themselves are becoming victims of this new form of crime.
The recent wave of malware attacks against Steam, the leading digital entertainment distribution platform, is a perfect example of how game-related crime has changed in recent years.
Since Steam is a multi-OS platform owned by gaming company Valve, which acts as an e-store for video games, it has started as a basic delivery and patching network eventually grew into a fully featured gaming market that counts more than 125 million members, 12 million concurrent users and thousands of games. Aside from the online purchase of games, the platform offers features for game inventories, trading cards and other valuable goods to be purchased and attached to users’ accounts.
Steam Stealer, a new breed of malware that is responsible for the hijacking of millions of user accounts. According to official data recently published by Steam, credentials for about 77,000 Steam accounts are stolen every month. Research led by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab has identified more than 1,200 specimens of the malware. Santiago Pontiroli and Bart P, the researchers who authored the report, maintain that Steam Stealer has “turned the threat landscape for the entertainment ecosystem into a devil’s playground.”
The malware is delivered through run-of-the-mill phishing campaigns, infected clones of gaming sites such as RazerComms and TeamSpeak or through fake versions of the Steam extension developed for the Chrome browser.
Inventory items are being traded at several hundred dollars in some cases. According to the Steam website, “enough money now moves around the system that stealing virtual Steam goods has become a real business for skilled hackers.”
Every online game and platform can become the target of cyberattacks.
A number of factors have contributed to the success of the attacks against the Steam platform, but paramount among them is the outdated perception toward security in games.
Developers and publishers are still focused on hardening their code against reverse engineering and piracy, while the rising threat of data breaches against games and gamers are not getting enough attention.
Some experts opine that prime reasons for the increasing incidents of gaming malware is the outdated perception toward security in games. From the gamers perspective, antivirus apps slow down the gaming device or causes them to lose frame rate, which leads users to disable it, making them potential targets for cyber-attacks.
Efforts are being made to improve security in software, but there’s still a long way to go.
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