Hackers using Minecraft, Counter-Strike to lure gamers to dangerous sites

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Levent Konuk)

Gaming-related cyberattacks have skyrocketed in recent months, as criminals look to capitalize on an increase in the number of people turning to video games as a source of entertainment during lockdown.

According to security firm Kaspersky, the number of attempts to direct users to malicious gaming-themed websites was up by 54% in April, over pre-lockdown rates. The number of redirects to phishing pages that contained mention of popular gaming platform Steam also rose by 40%.

The video games most commonly used to funnel players to dangerous domains include Minecraft, Counter Strike: Global Offensive and The Witcher 3, all of which are wildly popular in their own right.

Gaming scams

In the majority of video game-related attacks observed by Kaspersky, cybercriminals seduced victims with promises of free downloads, updates, expansions or cheats.

Users that navigated to the rigged websites were infected with an array of different malware, from password-stealers and ransomware to cryptocurrency miners.

“Many of these video game-related attacks are not particularly sophisticated; there is a large user component to their success. The past few months have shown that users are highly susceptible to falling for phishing attacks or clicking on malicious links when it comes to games,” said Maria Namestnikova, Security Expert at Kaspersky.

However, the threat posed by gaming-related attacks is also aggravated by the volume of users currently gaming on the same device they use to work remotely. In some instances, remote working devices are also shared between different family members, including children.

“Now that many players started using the same machines that they use to enter corporate networks for games, their cautiousness should be doubled: risky actions make not only personal data or money vulnerable but also corporate resources,” added Kaspersky’s Yury Namestnikov.

“When working from home, if possible, try to avoid mixing your personal computer with the one you use for accessing corporate network.”

To mitigate against gaming-related threats, Kaspersky advises players adhere to the following rules:

- Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication (2FA) where possible
- Be wary of any cheats and pirated copies of video games
- Use a security solution capable of blocking malicious downloads and redirects

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.