World Gamers Day celebrates a market that continues to grow both in terms of revenue and membership. Most gamers today come together online and form a community that can communicate with each other and interact with each other through instant messaging while gaming.
Online games especially flourished during periods of self-isolation as they provided entertainment and social interaction. Hundreds of thousands of new accounts were created and new communities were born. In fact, the number of online gamers in the world is estimated at one billion in 2020. According to statistics, China, South Korea and Japan are the countries where online games have gained the most popularity. It is estimated that by 2025 the number of online players will exceed 1.3 billion.
Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ:CHKP), one of the world’s leading providers of cybersecurity solutions, warns that while gaming is now one of the world’s largest entertainment industries, it is also one of the top targets for cybercriminals. Among the companies in the video game sector that have been victims of cyberattacks are CD Projekt Red, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft. Indeed, players often disclose personal information to companies in the sector, as well as to their employer, their bank or during online purchases.
There are several reasons why a cybercriminal targets gamers:
• Sell your virtual goods for real money. Cybercriminals often gain access to players’ accounts and steal their virtual goods in order to sell them to other users for real money. In many ways, the video game industry was the forerunner of cryptocurrencies. You should always remember that virtual money earned in the game is not usable in the real world, but has value for players and can be exchanged.
• To steal games from your inventory. Many games are published, sold and authenticated online through platforms such as Steam, Origin and GOG Galaxy. CPR has reported a serious vulnerability in Valve’s popular online game library. If exploited, it can hijack hundreds of thousands of computers without users needing to click on phishing emails as the victims will be affected by simply logging into the game. All their purchases are from a single account and are known to have libraries of hundreds of games. Cybercriminals sometimes hack into accounts to steal some of these games for their own use.
• Get as much information about you as possible for identification and bank fraud. Online transactions and monthly subscriptions contain a large amount of financial information of interest to cybercriminals. Sometimes they can even track sensitive information like your location, or listen in on phone conversations in the case of a mobile game.
But how can you protect yourself? Here are three simple tips from Check Point Software:
• Use two-factor authentication (2FA). Many games make it easy for attackers to simply look at another player to find out their username. For example, Battlefield 5 has a competitive mode that can be played by up to 64 players, which means that in one game, a cybercriminal is given up to 63 names with which to test common or default passwords. To protect accounts, it’s important to enable two-factor authentication when a separate code is required to sign in from a new device.
• Beware of phishing. Phishing campaigns often target users of popular games. A common tactic used by cybercriminals is to create a fake login page or pretend to be a friend and try to send malicious links through chat platforms. The general addiction to video games inspires confidence and creates an atmosphere of trust. Pay attention to anything that doesn’t seem normal to you and never click on links.
• Beware of “too good to be true” promises. In this world, malware distribution vectors often coincide with phishing methods. While Steam Chat can be used to spread links to fake authentication pages, it can certainly be used to send links to unintentional or accidental malware downloads. When it comes to competitive gaming, many gamers are sometimes tricked into deliberately downloading malicious apps that promise them cheats, hacks, or other ways to gain an advantage over other users. Pay attention to such offers and download apps only from official app stores. If we add to this the risk of malware spreading to devices connected to the corporate network, the risk is much higher.
“Video games are an open door for many types of cyberattacks, and taking drastic precautions is no longer an option, but a necessity. Having two-factor authentication to access your account, installing security software, or knowing the signs of a phishing attack are all key elements to avoid becoming the next victim. Online games are becoming more and more popular, and using them on a daily basis, it is very easy to let down your guard and stop being suspicious. The main difficulty is that cybercriminals are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to strike,” said Xavier Duros, Cyber Security Expert at Check Point Software.