Kaspersky stopped 5.8 million malware attacks 'disguised as popular PC games' in 2020

nanoguy

Posts: 1,021   +14
Staff member
In brief: One of the reasons we have a shortage of chips and other components is that more people want to play games than before the pandemic. However, this shift in consumer behavior has created an incentive for cybercriminals to craft malware that imitates popular PC and mobile titles in order to steal your data and download even more malware on your device.

The pandemic has had a strong influence over the way we use the Internet, with many more people finding solace during lockdowns by turning to streaming and gaming activities. As a result, both industries experienced healthy growth, and the hardware industry struggled to keep up with demand for better consoles, CPUs, graphics cards, monitors, and gaming accessories.

According to an analysis made by antivirus firm Kaspersky, this also presented an opportunity for malicious actors to take advantage of less tech-savvy people who joined the digital entertainment train. To get an idea about the scale of the problem, the company says it has detected and blocked more than 5.8 million attacks in the past nine months from malware and other forms of unwanted software disguised as popular PC and mobile games.

Image credit: Florian Krumm | Unsplash

Researchers looked at malware masquerading as one of the top 24 PC games and the top 10 mobile titles, and found that PC-related threat detections surged 66 percent between the first and the second quarter of 2020, reaching almost 2.5 million detections worldwide. This year, as the world started reopening and people returned to outdoor activities to some degree, the number of attacks dropped to slightly less than 637,000.

The situation on mobile initially mirrored that of the PC world with a 185 percent surge in people affected by malicious software posing as games. However, as the lockdowns were lifted the number of people spending time on their phones dropped less than 10 percent when compared to the onset of the pandemic, so mobile threats remained just as active as before.

Game Users Detections Files
Minecraft 184,887 3,010,891 36,336
The Sims 4 43,252 1,266,804 5,844
PUBG 26,724 484,528 10,360
Fortnite 14,702 267,598 6,109
Grand Theft Auto V 14,261 187,114 4,953

Interestingly, Minecraft was the most popular choice of disguise across both PC and mobile with over three million detections, followed by The Sims 4, PUBG, Fortnite, and Grand Theft Auto V. Most of the files distributed as these games are actually downloaders that drop more malware on infected PCs, or trojans that scour your mobile device for sensitive information.

Kaspersky says that while it's easy to get fooled into believing these are the real deal, it's just as easy to weed them out if you do a little bit of research every time you decide to purchase or download a game.

For instance, simply reading some of the reviews on a title can reveal if other people have had a bad experience with it. And while stores like Epic Games will sometimes offer legitimate games for free, downloading those games from forums and torrent sites can infect your PC with cryptojacking malware, steal your data, or take over peripherals like your webcam and microphone.

Masthead credit: Victor Moussa | Shutterstock

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texasrattler

Posts: 1,229   +577
I have never paid for a AV. Never will. The last AV I used was a D.O.D version of Norton. That was like 15 years ago. Today and for the past 10+ yrs been using Windows AV. Haven't had any problems. Granted I don't run around the internet or open/click random links/websites. I don't use torrents or sites that give huge discounts on games/software. Most of those type of sites are likely illegal to begin and you are just asking for trouble using them.
 
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VitalyT

Posts: 6,033   +6,404
I don't use torrents or sites that give huge discounts on games/software. Most of those type of sites are likely illegal to begin and you are just asking for trouble using them.
You can use torrents safely, like for downloading movies or music. Just as long as you do not download or worse click on included EXE files - those are typically malware, but educated users don't care, they just never open them.
 

3volv3d

Posts: 415   +215
Pretty sure Kaspersky put them there. Didn't Kaspersky have some really bad press years ago. They and Eset were top dogs around my circle.
But I saw an article from a Nortons employee, saying it was just a monthly tax on pc users and the software wasn't good at finding 0-day so useless.
And I wouldn't trust windows defender. M$ had security essentials kickin butt, and let that go to hell.
Just because no alarm bells are going off, doesn't mean you haven't caught something in the wild there. Hell the doom9 thing hit my PC and I had only just formatted it, and plugged it back to the net for updates.
Malwarebytes, ccleaner and a decent firewall, are my recommendations. But staying off dodgy sites for dodgy deals is a good step also. Shame they gotta hit the gamers like this though.
 

texasrattler

Posts: 1,229   +577
Pretty sure Kaspersky put them there. Didn't Kaspersky have some really bad press years ago. They and Eset were top dogs around my circle.
But I saw an article from a Nortons employee, saying it was just a monthly tax on pc users and the software wasn't good at finding 0-day so useless.
And I wouldn't trust windows defender. M$ had security essentials kickin butt, and let that go to hell.
Just because no alarm bells are going off, doesn't mean you haven't caught something in the wild there. Hell the doom9 thing hit my PC and I had only just formatted it, and plugged it back to the net for updates.
Malwarebytes, ccleaner and a decent firewall, are my recommendations. But staying off dodgy sites for dodgy deals is a good step also. Shame they gotta hit the gamers like this though.
I did use malwarebytes n CCleaner. Don't use malwarebytes anymore. Still use CCC.
I've not had any issues with Defender. No AV guarantees they will stop everything. They are just a preventative measure. Whether it was MSE or Defender, I have had no issues the last decade.
 

veLa

Posts: 1,138   +783
You can use torrents safely, like for downloading movies or music. Just as long as you do not download or worse click on included EXE files - those are typically malware, but educated users don't care, they just never open them.

Yes, and torrenting can also be used to distribute legitimate free and open-source software as well.
 

DubiousFishHook

Posts: 38   +4
Old & big scene groups like Deviance/Plaza/Reloaded would never have a real virus in their releases, their reputation would be ruined. Not once in 30-40 years have a scene group had malicious code in their releases.

It isn't hard to find an uploader with legit releases but apparently people always finds a way to be scammed.
 

Puiu

Posts: 5,064   +3,924
TechSpot Elite
The only AV I would install on my PC, if I needed one, would be Bitdefender. Otherwise a bit of common sense and the normal MS AV should be enough.
 
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Uncle Al

Posts: 8,366   +7,167
About the only one I found that consistently finds and eliminates various bugs is Webroot. I have Kaspersky and that did a good job initially, but now it just misses the bugs that Webroot catches. Tried ESET for awhile, but their application kept getting hacked and turned off so I've dumped them too. Now days it's just a constant battle that the big boys like Microsoft SHOULD be able to fix but I'm guessing there is too much $$ at stake for them to kill off an industry like these anti-virus makers.
 

eforce

Posts: 585   +733
Microsoft AV with everything enabled is more than sufficient for the average user, you can also use VirusTotal (free) to check downloads and any decent mail service already scans attachments.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,863   +2,217
TechSpot Elite
That's funny. Those are all games that have really high percentages of non-tech-savvy gamers. Tech-savvy gamers tend to play higher-end games than those because we tend to have much more potent gaming rigs than gamers who play those titles. Those titles tend to be played by kids and teenagers.
 

3volv3d

Posts: 415   +215
I did use malwarebytes n CCleaner. Don't use malwarebytes anymore. Still use CCC.
I've not had any issues with Defender. No AV guarantees they will stop everything. They are just a preventative measure. Whether it was MSE or Defender, I have had no issues the last decade.
That's the hope isn't it. So easily can a change in code mean they just slip by.
Vram now holding malicious code.
I remember hearing a story of a Samsung lorry jacked for its drives modded and released.
And then there's just having a gmail account. Fb account. Cookies.
The normal web seems far darker than the dark web.
The internet was better when they were still trying to get people on it. Now they have enough people to spy on and want more. Bait and switch.