Over 5.8 million malware and unwanted software attacks disguised as popular PC games detected in the past year: report

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While the gaming industry has seen unprecedented growth over the past 18 months, cybersecurity threats related to games have increased dramatically, according to a report from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.

Over 5.8 million malware and unwanted software attacks disguised as popular PC games have been detected and prevented by Kaspersky solutions from Q3 2020 to Q2 2021.

“This increased volume may be linked to the rapid growth in gaming activity during the pandemic,” the report says.

Kaspersky researchers reviewed various issues its users faced throughout the pandemic – from potential PC and mobile attacks to phishing schemes. Researchers analyzed attacks with malware and unwanted software disguised as 24 most popular PC games and top 10 mobile titles of 2021.

According to the results, PC gaming cyberthreats increased with the introduction of lockdowns in Q2 2020, reaching 2.48 million detections globally, an increase of 66% from Q1 2020, where 1, 48 million attacks had been detected. However, the number of attacks and affected users fell sharply in Q2 2021 to 636,904 attacks.

The trend was slightly different for mobile games, as the number of affected users increased by 185% at the start of the pandemic, from 1,138 users in February 2020 to 3,253 users in March 2020. There were no a 10% drop in the number of attacked users. per month in Q2 2020 compared to Q2 2021.

“It showed that mobile threats remain attractive to cybercriminals even as blocks are lifted across the world,” the report said.

Top five in fancy dress

Among the top five game titles most often used as a disguise for malware and unwanted software distribution around the world between Q3 2020 and Q2 2021, Minecraft topped the PC and mobile category rankings as game most often used to disguise the unwanted cast. software and malware.

According to the report, “The overwhelming popularity of Minecraft can be explained by the fact that there are multiple versions and a myriad of mods – additional modifications that can be installed in addition to the game to diversify it and the playing experience.” .

“Usually, mods are created by users and are unofficial, providing practical disguise for malicious payloads or unwanted software,” he added.

From July 2020 to June 2021, 36,336 files disguised as Minecraft were distributed. They affected 184,887 PC users and resulted in 3,010,891 infection attempts, nearly half of the files and attacks detected during this period.

The Sims 4 came in second with 5,844 files distributed, while 12,664,804 infection attempts were detected affecting 43,252 users. It was followed by PUBG where 26,724 users were reached with 4,84528 infection attempts detected while 10,360 files were distributed. Fortnite was fourth with 6,109 disguised in-game files being distributed, with 2,678,598 infection attempts detected, affecting 14,702 users. It was followed by Grand Theft Auto V. 4,953 files disguised as in-game were distributed. They affected 14,261 users and resulted in 1,87,114 infection attempts.

While the majority of files distributed under the guise of game titles were downloaders, i.e. programs capable of downloading other software to infected devices and adware, occasionally PC users and more serious threats, including Trojan-Stealers designed to steal cryptocurrency data. and other valuable data, Trojan bankers and even backdoors.

“We have seen a clear effect of the pandemic on the number of gambling threats. As more and more people turned to games, more and more users were faced with threats disguised as games. Phishing pages are two popular modes of threat distribution – there have been a myriad of them targeting users of different gaming platforms, many of which are very difficult to distinguish from real sites for regular users. Another attack vector is warez’s sites – in particular, we tracked a well-coordinated campaign that distributed a dangerous dropper through such sites, affecting users in 45 countries, ”said Anton V. Ivanov, security researcher at Kaspersky.

“With the development of in-game goodies and currencies, the gaming industry becomes even more lucrative and attractive to cybercriminals. Perhaps the worst risk associated with gambling threats is the loss of account credentials, be it gambling account login credentials or, worse yet, banking or crypto apps. -cash. Overall, sticking to official stores and remaining vigilant when looking at game-related content is crucial for a safe experience, ”added Ivanov.


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