Catnip for cybercriminals. So, companies can be forced to go offline; for players sensitive data is at risk.

Millions of people escaped the drudgery of Covid-19 pandemic's first year by turning to video games, where they could cast spells, kill zombies and compete as their favorite athletes.

These virtual worlds also lured in a different kind of enthusiasm - the kind who sought to steal people's information and real-world dollars.

According to the Akamai report, games represent the industry hit most often by distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks, in which an attacker uses an automated technique to overwhelm servers with requests, severely slowing down the service or taking it offline altogether.

These attacks can eat into a company's bottom line as it scrambles to restore access and address customer complaints.

AKAMAI warned that as the game industry expands, it will attract more cybercrime.

''Financial crime is happening to younger and younger players all the time because they're in the gaming ecosystem now,'' Mr. Lauro said.

Not all attacks involve exploiting source code or crafting compromised links. Some are just straightforward scams. Mr. Lauro said he once paid for a prize for his son on Roblox, an online game platform, and the prize never showed up.

But the transaction was so small - less than a dollar - that his son was not really bothered, and Mr. Lauro knew law enforcement would not be, either.

''Little transactions of 60 cents here, there  -who is going to investigate that?'' he said.

In recent months, cybersecurity firms have warned that cybercrime in video games has increased substantially since the start of the pandemic and that vulnerability to such crime - for game studios as well as players - is far from being vanquished.

''When you add more users or devices or applications to a user pool, you're creating a larger attack surface,'' said Tony Lauro, director of security technology and strategy at Akamai Technologies, a content delivery company that hosts large swaths of the Internet. ''In general, that is what is driving the this massive increase over time.''

An Akamai report published in August said web application attacks, which exploit vulnerabilities in online programs like mobile games, were up 167 percent from May 2021 to April 2022 compared with the same period the year before.

And a report in September from the Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab found a 13 percent increase in malicious software attacks on games in the first half of 2022, compared with the first half of 2021.

The RANGE of attacks and targets in video games is enormous. Game companies can lose huge batches of data, and their games can be taken offline temporarily. Individual players can lose money and sensitive personal data, as well as game progress.

Jessica Geoffroy, 29, was in some ways lucky that guilt was the main penalty she faced after she was hacked in December.

She realized that something was wrong after she received a flurry of phone notifications from friends asking why she was still sending messages on Steam, a popular game platform, after she had gone to bed.

When Ms. Geoffroy found that she couldn't log in to her Steam account, she knew she had been hacked.

''My heart was racing,'' she said. ''I thought, oh, God, what if they get my bank account information? What if they hack my friends and get their bank account information? - not knowing how far this is going to go.''

Fortunately, Ms. Geoffroy was able to reset her password that night. Nothing appeared to have been stolen, she said, but she felt ''horrible'' that the hacker has sent messages to her friends with the same compromised link that she had mindlessly clicked on - and which another friend had sent to her.

That friend's account disappeared after the link was sent, and she had not been able to get in contact with that person.

''A lot of people I know don't think this stuff is going to happen to them,'' she said. ''They don't realize it can happen and it will happen.''

The Essay continues. The World Students Society thanks author Amanda Holpuch.


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!