A very clever scheme has been revealed that takes advantage of Gaming Websites and their currencies to launder money. What cyber-crooks have been reported to do is use online currencies as laundering means according to Trend Micro’s latest reports. The much less control of governments over the online currencies used in such gaming sites and games has made them a perfect opportunity for crooks.
What Cyber-Criminals Target the Most
The online renegades usually generate tons of money by taking advantage of ransomware, banking malware and adware campaigns. This money is then converted to online currencies, such as BitCoin, for example.
Many groups choose different ways to launder the money, but most hacking groups that have generated huge fortunes have primarily chosen to hack PC gaming accounts in widely used games such as World of Warcraft, Star Wars Online, Grand Theft Auto, Diablo, and many others.
Games Also Targeted for Account Funds
Besides that hackers may use fake accounts to transfer insane amount of funds, they may also use legitimate accounts of actual users. The hackers usually take advantage of glitches in the game that allow them to generate large amounts of in-game cash by spawning items that cost money in real-life. After this has been done the hackers put such items for sale online. This gives hackers unlimited profits, well, at least until the gaming company themselves don’t discover the bugs.
Other forms of “clean” attacks were reported by the researchers to be attacks directly focused on the accounts of the gamers themselves to steal funds that were input in their accounts.
Not only this, but reports also have previously indicated that game farming is also a big underground industry as well. Many indicate crooks who employed other gamers to farm for them and generate funds this way.
Special malware families have emerged that begun to target gaming platforms and games such as:
- Korean PC games and mobile games.
- Blizzard Games (World of Warcraft)
- The Elder Scrolls
- Star Craft 2
- Fallout 3
- World of Tanks
What is worse is some of the hacker groups behind this want to be known, and the proof of that is the many hacking groups that were created to sell gaming accounts and currencies in games. Some hacking groups, like OurMine, even offered free gaming currencies to users.
The ignorance of the law-enforcement agencies because of the sheer number of software and different types of scams and malware still makes such laundering operations very successful and more attention on security should be turned there. For the moment it is a very low-risk operation, and companies such as Steam cannot do much about it, because of the sheer number of users and transactions going on. Since then, companies have introduced two-factor authentication, but since some users are privacy-concerned, they do not tend to use it for easier login operation or other reasons.