Attention gamers: You’re targets for crime!

Video games have gone since the late 1970s and early 1980s from being a small offshoot of the “traditional” computing industry to becoming a full-fledged multi-billion dollar industry in themselves. Today, companies like Microsoft, Nintendo and SONY generate billions of dollars from sales of games and gaming consoles.

To get an idea of just how pervasive computer gaming is, let’s look at these successful games and consoles, and match them up with some other real-world numbers:

ITEM
NUMBER
EQUIVALENT TO
The Sims 175 000 000
(copies sold over 15 years)
Combined population of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland
World of Warcraft 7 600 000
(avg. # players over
last 4 quarters)
Cost of 2014 upgrades (in
USD) to Kensington Palace,
United Kingdom
8th generation console units 18 680 000
(PS4+Wii+XBONE units shipped/sold)
Average number of viewers per
episode of Big Bang Theory
during its 2012-2013 season

Computer gaming is a huge and a wildly successful market, and as in any system that works at scale, there are going to be so-called businessmen or entrepreneurs who “seek to optimize their return on investment through whatever means possible” or, to put it more succinctly, criminals who abuse the ecosystem.  But in virtual worlds, can real crimes occur?

The sale of virtual goods (including virtual currencies) is an important part of in-game economies, but also presents criminals with some unique opportunities as well, such as theft of in-game goods, counterfeiting items and gold farming. But computer criminals don’t just target gamers:  Gaming companies themselves can be targeted as well.  Probably the most well-known example of this is the April 2011 breach of the SONY PlayStation Network gaming and Qriocity music streaming service, which resulted in the compromise of the names, addresses and credit card details of 77 million user accounts. ESET provided extensive coverage of the SONY data breach in our blog, starting from the initial report of the breach in April 2011 all the way up to the proposed settlement of a week ago.

For the most part, computer gaming poses no additional risks beyond any other activities you might perform on the Internet.  You may, however, wish to take a few extra precautions, as outlined in the previous two articles from We Live Security:

This is a shortened version of Aryeh Goretsky’s article on We Live Security. Go here for the full story.


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