Woburn, MA – June 17, 2020 – New research from Kaspersky found that cybercriminals have been exploiting the increased popularity of video games during lockdown to launch attacks. In April, the daily number of blocked attempts to direct users to malicious gaming-themed sites increased by 54%, compared to January, 2020. Also in April, the number of blocked attempts to direct users to phishing pages for one of the most popular gaming platforms increased by 40%, compared to February 2020.
This spring, lockdown measures sent people around the world indoors, and millions turned to online entertainment, including video games. Beginning in March, Steam, the most popular online gaming platform, community, and store, reached an all-time record for both active users and concurrent users actively playing games.
In response to this trend, Kaspersky researchers decided to look deeper into the threat landscape of video games during the lockdown period. What they found, not surprisingly, was that cybercriminals have been exploiting the increased interest in video games to launch various attacks.
According to data from Kaspersky Security Network, there was a 54% increase in the daily number of attempts to direct users to malicious gaming-themed sites from January to April.
Users are often lured by promises of free versions of popular games, updates and extensions, or cheats. However, if users click on these links, a wide variety of malicious programs can be downloaded, from password-stealing malware to ransomware and miners, software that secretly mines cryptocurrency from the victim’s computer.
Daily numbers of web attacks using the theme of online games as a lure, January-May 2020
The game most often used by criminals was Minecraft, one of the most popular games ever made. Its name was used in more than 130,000 web attacks. The other most popular games used in attacks were Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and The Witcher 3.
What’s more, according to statistics from Kaspersky’s Anti-Phishing System, compared with February, the number of blocked redirects to phishing pages that contained the word “Steam” increased by 40% in April.
“Many of these video game-related attacks are not particularly sophisticated; there is a large user component to their success,” said Maria Namestnikova, security expert at Kaspersky. “The past few months have shown that users are highly susceptible to falling for phishing attacks or clicking on malicious links when it comes to games—whether they’re looking to find pirated versions or eager for a cheat that will help them win.”
“Now that many players started using the same machines that they use to enter corporate networks for games, their cautiousness should be doubled: risky actions make not only personal data or money vulnerable but also corporate resources,” said Yury Namestnikov, security expert at Kaspersky. “When working from home, if possible, try to avoid mixing your personal computer with the one you use for accessing a corporate network.”
Read more about video game-related cybercrime on Securelist.
To stay safe from attacks while playing video games, Kaspersky experts recommend:
- Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication (2FA) where possible to protect your video gaming accounts
- Be wary of any cheats and pirated copies of video games, since it’s one of the favorite lures used by cybercriminals
- Use a reliable security solution like Kaspersky Security Cloud that identifies malicious downloads, blocks phishing sites, and prevents redirects to malicious pages
- During the game, don’t switch off your security solution, but turn on gaming mode, which consumes fewer resources.
Kaspersky is a global cybersecurity company founded in 1997. Kaspersky’s deep threat intelligence and security expertise is constantly transforming into innovative security solutions and services to protect businesses, critical infrastructure, governments and consumers around the globe. The company’s comprehensive security portfolio includes leading endpoint protection and a number of specialized security solutions and services to fight sophisticated and evolving digital threats. Over 400 million users are protected by Kaspersky technologies and we help 250,000 corporate clients protect what matters most to them. Learn more at usa.kaspersky.com.
Sawyer Van Horn