Woburn, MA – November 6, 2023 – A comprehensive investigation by Kaspersky has found that more than four million infection attempts targeted the global gaming community between July 2022 and July 2023. During the analyzed period, cybercriminals launched a range of attacks, including Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, cryptocurrency mining, complex Trojan or phishing campaigns and using web vulnerabilities.
Kaspersky solutions detected 4,076,530 desktop infection attempts involving 30,684 unique files masked as popular games, mods, cheats, and other game-related software. These incidents affected 192,456 users worldwide. These files – primarily classified as unwanted software and often labeled as not-a-virus:Downloader (89.70% of detected files) – are not innately dangerous, but they are capable of downloading various other programs, even malicious ones, onto the user's device. Adware (5.25%) and Trojans (2.39%) were also noteworthy threats to desktop gamers.
Minecraft emerged as the favored target among cybercriminals, responsible for triggering 70.29% of all alerts. The threats that used Minecraft as bait impacted 130,619 players across the globe during the reporting period. Roblox was the second most-targeted game title, contributing to 20.37% of all alerts, affecting 30,367 users. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (4.78%), PUBG (2.85%), Hogwarts Legacy (0.60%), DOTA 2 (0.45%), and League of Legends (0.31%) were also among the prominent games subjected to cyber threats.
The mobile gaming community, which, according to the Newzoo 2023 report, consists of over three billion gamers, or nearly 40% of the world's population, is characterized by its significant growth and accessibility, and has become an enticing target for cybercriminals. Between July 1, 2022, and July 1, 2023, Kaspersky documented 436,786 attempts to infect mobile devices, impacting 84,539 users.
Various game titles were employed as bait to target mobile gamers. Minecraft enthusiasts once again were the primary targets, as 90.37% of attacks focused on them. Indonesian users in particular faced exploitation through Minecraft, resulting in a Trojan.AndroidOS.Pootel.a attack, discreetly registering mobile subscriptions. The Islamic Republic of Iran witnessed the highest prevalence of these attacks, with 140,482 alerts impacting 54,467 Minecraft players.
PUBG: Battlegrounds Battle Royale was the second most exploited mobile game among cybercriminals, accounting for 5.09% of all alerts, with the majority of incidents occurring in the Russian Federation. Roblox (3.33%) ranked third in terms of detections but second in the number of affected users.
A noteworthy discovery involved the emergence of SpyNote, a spy Trojan distributed among Roblox users on the Android mobile platform under the guise of a mod. This Trojan exhibits various spying capabilities, including keylogging, screen recording, video streaming from phone cameras, and the ability to impersonate Google and Facebook applications to deceive users into divulging their passwords.
Phishing and counterfeit distribution pages continue to pose a significant threat to gamers. Malicious and undesired software often masquerades as popular games, disseminated through third-party websites offering pirated versions. These deceptive pages typically display inflated download counts, potentially misleading users into a false sense of security. Nonetheless, clicking the download button typically results in an archive that may contain harmful or unrelated elements, diverging from the promised content.
"In the dynamic gaming industry, which hosts a wealth of personal and financial data, cybercriminals are seizing enticing opportunities,” said Vasily Kolesnikov, cybersecurity expert at Kaspersky. “They exploit gaming accounts by pilfering in-game assets, virtual currency, and selling compromised gaming accounts, often with real-world value. The relentless pursuit of personal data has led to a surge in ransomware attacks, even affecting professional gamers who depend on uninterrupted play. This underscores the critical need for enhanced cybersecurity awareness within the gaming community.”
The full report is available on Securelist.
To stay safe while gaming, Kaspersky recommends:
· Download your games from official stores like Steam, Apple App Store, Google Play or Amazon Appstore only. Games from these marketplaces are not 100% safe, but they at least are checked by store representatives and there is some kind of screening system: not every app can get listed.
· If you wish to buy a game that is not available through the major stores, purchase it from the official website only. Double-check the URL of the website and make sure it is authentic. To additionally protect your purchases, use online banking protection, such as Safe Money feature in Kaspersky products.
· Beware of phishing campaigns and unfamiliar gamers. Do not open links received by email or in a game chat unless you trust the sender. Do not open files you get from strangers.
· Do not download pirated software or any other illegal content, even if you are redirected to it from a legitimate website.
· Use a strong, reliable security solution, which will not slow down your computer while you are playing, while protecting you from malware, phishing and other threats. As an example, Kaspersky Premium works smoothly with Steam and other gaming services, and can protect computers and mobile devices.
· It’s safer to buy games only on official sites and wait for the sales — they regularly take place, so you won’t be sitting on your hands for long.
Kaspersky is a global cybersecurity and digital privacy company founded in 1997. Kaspersky’s deep threat intelligence and security expertise is constantly transforming into innovative solutions and services to protect businesses, critical infrastructure, governments and consumers around the globe. The company’s comprehensive security portfolio includes leading endpoint protection, specialized security products and services, as well as Cyber Immune solutions to fight sophisticated and evolving digital threats. Over 400 million users are protected by Kaspersky technologies and we help over 220,000 corporate clients protect what matters most to them. Learn more at www.kaspersky.com.
Sawyer Van Horn