Whether you play Fortnite, WoW, War Hammer, or plain old casino slots, risks always abound online. Barely two decades ago, most people considered gaming as a pastime for kids and teens. The average adult of 20 years ago did not have to worry about someone stealing all their virtual wealth.
While there is no clear line on when this changed, gaming is now ubiquitous and reputable. The popularity of online gaming is at an all-time high. We have an entire billion industries funding online competitions. Better still, thousands of gamers making a living off the games. If you feel you are missing out, you can begin by learning more about the success of online casinos on Casinotalk.
Why Gamers are Soft Targets for Cybercriminals
This success of online games has not passed unnoticed by scammers, hackers, and identity thieves. Unironically, gamers are quickly becoming the hottest targets for cybercrime.
A few months ago, hackers stole and leaked over 23 million account details from Webkinz children’s game. This report is an example of how hackers are wreaking havoc in the gaming community. Why are gamers becoming soft targets for cybercriminals?
Online Game Virtual Economies
World of Warcraft is the largest massively multiplayer player online game. It boasts of over 7 million players and gets over 28 million queries on Google every month. While this is not representative of how successful the platform is, it provides a clear picture of how popular mmporg games are.
With such huge numbers of players converged in one virtual space, there will always be a few that want it all for nothing. All popular games allow players to store the value they create in-game using gold, coins, or some kind of currency.
This is the primary reason why players on gaming platforms such as WoW are hot targets for account thieves. In 2013, 11 Chinese men were found guilty of stealing from 11,500 World of Warcraft accounts and sentenced to 2 years in jail. Of the many online places to hack, gaming platforms are among the softest targets, especially when they have a thriving virtual economy.
Accounts and Identity Theft
Identity theft is the dark side of online gaming. It is not difficult to see why anyone would be motivated enough to hack a gaming account. The login credentials alone can let a cybercriminal into the victim’s real world.
By acquiring the user’s username and password, they can also find their real name, address, and identity or social security number. This information is more than a good hacker needs to empty the victim’s account and even access tax information.
Identity theft has become a very serious problem in the first world. Unfortunately, newbies in the gaming world fail to see the severity of this problem. The good thing is, with simple steps, a gamer can secure his/her account and even set up fail-safes for when their gamer account details are stolen.
Link Between Cybercrime and the Gaming Economy
There are two ways gamers progress and unlock game features. The first is by working hard, putting in more time and effort to earn their way up the ladder. The other is to simply deposit some funds and access premium game features from third-parties. Aren’t these two a representation of how the real-world society presently works?
Research by Trend Micro revealed a strong link between trading in in-game currencies and cybercrime. The report found that individuals that exploit loopholes and bugs in the game to get ahead will most likely do the same in the real world.
Many cybercriminals start their careers with simple phishing and trading with in-game merchandise. Gradually, they level up to selling stolen currencies and digital tokens outside the game in forums, social media, and websites. Before long, some find themselves laundering money and sponsoring crimes against gaming companies.
If you are a gamer or trying to be one, these concerns should inspire you to protect yourself and your data better. Check out more blogs here.