Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Don't play with cybercrime

The report of the week

Like every night, you put on your heavy armour and travel through the Eastern Kingdoms of Azeroth riding your black horse. Inside your favourite video game you feel like a hero. You could spend hours and hours in front of the computer, killing ferocious dragons, rising levels and acquiring new weapons and powers. Along the way you will find other virtual characters. Behind the Night Elf, the Magician and the Werewolf there are people like you; with some of them you could even create a friendly bond. But you can’t trust everyone: cybercriminals hide in the forest too.

One day, just when you are about to defeat one of the most powerful monsters, your enemy manages to escape. “Don’t worry, I know how to finish this. Someone passed me an infallible trick, there is a tutorial…”, Nyto723 writes to you on a private chat. Immediately, he sends you a link from where you can download the file. And you don’t think it twice because you’ve known him for a long time and also because you are looking forward to passing that level. So you press on the link… without knowing it is infected by malware… and you end up downloading a Trojan. Game over. 

A survey conducted by IT Security Guru brings a very interesting hypothesis: when we are playing, we relax more, we enter into a state of concentration towards the video game and can make irresponsible decisions regarding our security. “Defeating our opponent is more important than keeping our information safe”, experts say.

According to the study, 49% of players prefer online games because they involve competition and interaction with other people. This opens a world of adventures and possibilities for us, also for cybercrime.

42% of respondents have met people pretending to be someone else, 24% have come across users who asked them suspicious personal questions. And 17% have talked to characters who asked them for financial information and tried to log into their accounts.

Despite these dangers, the relations forged on online games are based on trust because they require teamwork and gamers play together long hours per week. 22% of respondents stated that they fully trust the other players, while 17% rely more on the people they met on dating sites.

The risks of playing blindly

According to IT Security Guru, when you are playing, you relax and lower your barriers against cyber threats. Only 17% of respondents use antivirus on their mobile phones while they are playing (62% in the case of computers). In addition, one out of ten admits disconnecting the security software to make the game run faster.

Another revealing fact is that 48% of children between 11 and 16 years old often share their real names and age when they are on a game. That is, digital natives are not as cautious in the virtual world as we thought they were. Microsoft had already pointed at this.

Finally, the study provides a series of tips that you should follow, even if you are on level 110. First of all, be wary of websites that are unofficial and try to sell you expansions or complements for your character (skins, weapons, clothes…). They can get your bank details and use them for other purposes.

Secondly, protect your passwords and change them periodically, but above all, don’t use the same one for different accounts (once one is hacked, the rest can be hacked too). Finally, neither play blindly nor click on the links that other gamers send to you, unless you are fully sure they are legit. Moreover, don’t share either personal information or banking details with them. If you don’t know if the person is real, distrust.

After several hours fighting against orcs, you fulfill your mission and save the peasants in distress. You can now disconnect for today, with the satisfaction of the duty fulfilled and the certainty of not having downloaded any malware along the way.  


 Image: World of Warcraft. Source: BagoGames on Flickr

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