Today, Trend Micro Forward-Looking Threat Researchers (FTR) published a new report, “The Cybercriminal Roots of Selling Online Gaming Currency” that details out the abuse by cybercriminals are perpetrating against the online gaming industry. Sadly, many gamers are being used as pawns in these threat actors’ efforts by buying up online game currencies to support their own efforts in playing these online games. The profits from selling this currency allow these criminals to fund other cybercrime efforts, including DDoS against their victims.
The Gaming industry generated $91B in revenue for 2015 and there are gamers across the globe which threat actors have taken notice of. Cybercriminals always look for ways to generate new profits as well as new victims and the gaming industry has been in the cross-hairs of hackers for a while now. Stealing accounts, banking information and personal information has been going on for quite a long time now. Selling online game currencies is a new way for them to generate revenue in a legitimate way since this practice is not illegal. The report explains how these criminals are obtaining game currency in mainly illicit ways and also discusses many of the malicious code (malware) that has been developed and targeted against gamers. The money laundering aspects are also covered within the report too, as this practice allows cybercriminals to cover their tracks quite extensively.
One of the challenges today is selling gaming currencies is not inherently illegal and as such there are many websites today that do this. But now we’re seeing cybercriminals also creating sites to sell their own ill-gotten game currency to unsuspecting gamers. The good news is the industry has started to take notice of this trend and we’re starting to see many efforts by the gaming organizations to address these attacks and build more awareness within their communities. Trend Micro wants gamers to know that purchasing online gaming currency from websites (both in the deep web and surface web) may be funding cybercrime and hacktivist activities. We recommend only obtaining games currency through legitimate means by following the developers processes.
The report will give both game developers and gamers detailed information on how this all works and what they can do to help prevent this criminal activity. Feel free to leave a comment if you have questions or simply if you like our report.