PC gaming has become an extremely popular pastime for people around the world, and some have even turned their hobby into a viable career. With esports leagues popping up everywhere and new games being released frequently, it’s no wonder the gaming industry is booming right now.
However, recent research has shown that hackers and cybercriminals are capitalizing on a player’s weakness: free downloadable games. Although some PC games are free to download and are legitimate, it can sometimes be difficult to identify the authenticity of a game.
The crooks have injected illegitimate free games on various forums with different types of malware. This comes at a time when cybersecurity issues are becoming more and more common.
Let’s see what to look for, which games have hidden malware in their code, and how to protect yourself from the victim of one of these scammers.
An increase in cases of hidden malware
The BBC has reported that video games such as Grand Theft Auto V, NBA 2K19 and Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 are offered for free on gaming forums and have hidden malware installed in their code. This cybersecurity threat is a form of crypto-mining malware called Crackonosh.
Once one of these games is downloaded, the malware starts generating digital money in the form of cryptocurrency. So far, criminals have made around $ 2 million from these online scams alone.
Cyber ââsecurity software company Avast believes the malware can be traced back to a Czech author. These cracked games are downloaded quickly – Avast is said to detect 800 cases of Crackonosh on computers every day.
Besides these malware cases, other types of attacks have occurred when gamers download various cheat codes to facilitate their gaming experience. As a gamer, it is essential to avoid downloading any software or a game. from an unauthorized source, although it can be downloaded for free.
Signs to watch out for when downloading games
What can you do to avoid downloading these games and falling victim to a malware threat or cybersecurity attack?
Let’s explore some basic cybersecurity practices, because there’s no better time than now – October is National Cyber ââSecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). NSCAM helps raise awareness of various types of cyber threats and educates online users to protect themselves.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if a PC game contains hidden malware:
- Does downloading the game redirect you to a malicious website?
- Does the name of the downloaded file match the game you are trying to play?
- Does the game file have one of these extension formats: .EXE, .ZIP, or .RAR?
- Does your PC or Mac send you a malware alert when you download the game file?
Additionally, here are some ways to protect your device from potential risks of compromise:
- Make sure you are using official game distribution platforms.
- Check that the websites you download games from use HTTPS in their URLs.
- Keep reliable antivirus software and other types of security software to protect your PC.
Other game titles that have malware installed are Minecraft, The Sims 4, Fortnite, and PUBG. When deciding to download new games, keep these titles in mind and use the tips above to prevent malware attack on your PC.
Avoid downloading games with hidden malware
Do yourself a favor and make sure to verify that you are paying to download games from authorized sellers. Use some of the tips mentioned above to help you do your part and protect yourself during National Cyber ââSecurity Awareness Month.