Cyberpunk 2077 is a hotly anticipated game – and one that’s been worth the wait according to our freshly published review – so it’s not really a shock that scammers are trying to exploit PC gamers who might want to get hold of it early.
In fact, scammers are offering up a ‘free’ copy of Cyberpunk 2077, but of course any unwary and unfortunate punters who attempt to download the game which costs nothing – on the face of it – will end up sorely disappointed.
As security company Kaspersky points out, a few such scams are already floating around online.
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The broad setup is a fake website offering Cyberpunk 2077 as a free download. Any user who downloads the executable and runs it will be presented with a fake installation process – with a real enough looking Cyberpunk 2077 splash screen – which appears to take some time to install and configure the game, subsequently requesting a license key to unlock it.
To get that key, you’re redirected to another site where you have to complete a survey, and the data requested includes personal details like your email and phone number, which as Kaspersky observes is the obvious target here, for use by spammers (or selling to them).
Eventually, you are actually given a license key, which appears to work with the fake installation of Cyberpunk 2077, but when you actually try and run the game, you get a ‘missing DLL’ error. There’s a button to download that DLL, but that just leads to another survey, and after that, the trail goes cold.
Could be worse
Now, anybody who is even vaguely tech-savvy and looking to buy Cyberpunk 2077 is unlikely to fall for the idea that a massive triple-A game could somehow be free at launch, but there will always be outliers or desperately hopeful gamers. Needless to say, a free lunch almost always has a cost, and in this case, the price is your personal data (and the fact that there’s actually no lunch at all in the end).
It could be worse, of course, and the fake installer could place something nasty on your PC.
Kaspersky notes that the scams it has found are only about harvesting personal data, but it’s obviously easy to see how malware might be installed by the fake Cyberpunk 2077 executable. Alternatively, rather than filling out a survey, the fake website could ask for a small amount of money for the ‘license key’.
Cyberpunk 2077 comes out very shortly on December 10, and it’s likely that these kind of scams will see an uptick as cyber-criminals try to cash in with their data hoovering antics (or worse).
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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).