According to security
Labs, hackers and cybercriminals are targeting gamers, with 11.7 million attacks on gamers in 2013 and some 4.6 million pieces of malware
specifically designed to target them. Kaspersky says that’s about 34,000 attacks per day, on average.
It’s perhaps not terribly surprising, though, as gaming enthusiasts present a growing attack vector. "Gaming has an ever-increasing fanbase, which also means that the number of potential victims for cyber criminals is rising as well,” said Christian Funk, Senior Virus Analyst, Global Research and Analysis Team, Kasperksy Lab. He also noted that the level of sophistication of the attacks is on the rise.
A metaphor for hard-sell phishing techniques?
Attacks seem to be most prevalent when a game is first released, and Kaspersky notes that the black market for usernames and passwords is thriving. The most popular games are often the most attacked, such as Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto V; both were targets this year, with malware downloads masquerading as attractive tools for the games.
Kaspersky has several tips for playing it safe when gaming:
-- Don't click through on any offers that look too good to be true, whether from your inbox or on social networks like Facebook or Twitter. If an offer does come through that looks legitimate, ensure the sender is trusted before hitting a link or handing over any details. If in doubt, contact the official company the sender claims to be from.
-- Use strong and varied passwords across your gaming accounts. As we've seen this year, gaming companies get hacked and logins are leaked. If you don't have different credentials, getting one set stolen means all your different accounts using that same password could be compromised. Consider investing in a password manager, as it will give you simple, smart protection.
-- Get a good quality anti-virus. With the rafts of gaming malware out there, and the increasing sophistication of the malicious software, you'll need some level of protection against it. You'll need AV that goes beyond signature-based detection to look at file reputation, if you want to stop the smartest malware getting on your system.
-- Be careful who you befriend. It's easy to make friends in virtual worlds today, but not all are doing so innocently. Beware anyone who asks for your personal details, as they may want to do more than just contact you.
-- Only download titles from legitimate sellers. If you're downloading an illegal copy of a game, you aren't just breaking the law. You're risking getting malware on your machine, as crooks often disguise game files as malicious software.
Mostly, that’s just common sense for navigating the wide world of the Internet, but sometimes common sense needs to be reiterated. Game safe, folks.