If your moral compass doesn't dissuade you from pirating games, maybe the prevalence of malware
will. According to the latest research from AVG
, game hacks and cracks almost always contain malicious code, as in more than 90 percent of the time, depending on where the downloads originate. In other words, for every 10 times you download a keygen or cracked copy of a game, you're lucky if just one of those files isn't infected.
This doesn't just apply to cracked copies of popular titles, either. Some gamers get more than they bargained for when they go in search of shortcuts to character development. AVG says World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Runescape, World of Tanks, and Minecraft are played by an aggregate of more than 330 million people worldwide, making them prime targets for cybercriminals.
"Some gamers are keen to circumvent the hours required to develop your character and enhance your in-game prospects and are therefore in search of game hacks such as patches, cheats and trainers that are available online, usually found on unregulated torrent or file-sharing sites," AVG stated in a blog post. "Our Virus Lab Research Group found that within the majority of these downloadable files on these sharing sites there lurk small chunks of executable malicious code or malware designed to pry, steal and disrupt."
The prevalence of dirty code varies by location and is high as 90 percent in some sites, such as metasearch services like FilesTube and FileCrop, AVG says. To err on the side of caution, AVG recommends never downloading cracks, hacks, trainers, or unofficial patches, only downloading updates from the official game provider's website, and varying your login details even for every game account and even for game forums.