Hackers Cashing in on Stolen Online Gaming Accounts

Dennis Faas's picture

Those who spend their time racking up points in online multi-player video games are now being targeted by hackers looking to cash in on their progress. Specially-crafted malware has been made in an effort to attack online gamers, steal their account information (and subsequent point accumulation) and sell their goods online.

The most popular game currently targeted is World of Warcraft, and maker Blizzard has been working on ways to counter the problem. World of Warcraft attacks have continued to plague Blizzard since reports of difficulties experienced with the game's authenticator were first made back in February of this year. (Source: blogspot.com)

New Underground Market Flourishes

Christian Funk, a researcher at security firm Kaspersky, warned online gamers that "people are willing to spend their money on virtual goods," meaning that the demand is there for an underground market.

At the highest level, gamers have been known to spend over $1,340 USD on a single stolen account. Transactions have even occurred over popular online shopping site eBay.

In Britain alone, around 14,500 attacks have been launched each day. Considering the fact that the UK is the 39th most targeted country in the world, projected numbers for the US and China (who has taken the unenviable top spot in the number of daily reported attacks) are catastrophic. (Source: itpro.co.uk)

Hackers Rational in Attack Choice

The top 10 countries targeted all have significantly large populations, which mean lots of PCs are connected to the Internet, making them very desirable for hackers looking to harvest accounts. However, those in underdeveloped countries also have reason to worry: the primary factor here is that in poorer nations, people do not have enough funds to spend on security solutions.

As Funk continued: "In these countries, pirated versions of Windows are more prevalent than elsewhere, meaning many have been left without updates to their systems."

Thus, the dilemma for the attacker is really where to attack first. In developed countries, more of the population is connected to the Internet, but fewer people leave their systems prone to an attack. In developing countries, less of the population is connected to the Internet, but of those that have access, more leave their systems unsecured.

In the end, all Internet gamers around the world should exercise caution when storing and retrieving their personal data and gaming information online.

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