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Appeared on: Sunday, January 12, 2014
Gamers Faced Severe Cyber Attacks In 2013

PC gamers around the globe were hit by a massive number of attacks in 2013, Kaspersky Lab experts have discovered.

Currently Kaspersky Lab knows 4.6 million pieces of malware which focus on gaming, with the total number of attacks facing gamers reaching 11.7 million globally. Kaspersky's researchers said that on average, users were hit by 34,000 attacks from gaming malware every day.

Russian gamers were the most at risk, as hackers made 8,813,050 attempts on them from 1 January to December 2013. Vietnam was in second with 503,947, followed by China on 376,058. Gamers in Spain, Poland, Turkey, Taiwan and Tailand were also targets of attacks.

Gamers face all kinds of different digital assaults on their systems. Underground forums, such as the Steam portal and marketplace, are ridden with cyber crooks selling access to people's gaming accounts. The market for usernames and passwords is fuelled by attacks on the gaming companies themselves. Earlier this year, Kaspersky Lab detected a major espionage campaign on a range of massive multiplayer online games makers, with source code and other valuable data stolen.

Malware designers target specific games, such as the hugely popular Minecraft. Earlier this year, a fake Minecraft tool built with Java promised to give the player powers such as banning other users, but in the background it was stealing usernames and passwords. When Grand Theft Auto V landed earlier this year, various sites offered fake downloads to access the record-breaking game for free. But when users tried to get the game, all they got was malware - a classic example of powerful names being abused to lure victims into downloading malicious code.

Then there are the traditional scams, like phishing. Slews of emails are sent out every time a big gaming launch happens, especially at Christmas, attempting to lure users into handing over data or money with the promise of discounts or cheap gaming goods.

Gamers need to take the right precautions, invest in adequate protection and wise up to the range of threats they face. Here are Kaspersky Lab?s top five tips for gaming security:

- Don?t click through on any offers that look too good to be true, whether from your inbox or on social networks like Facebook or Twitter. If an offer comes through and looks legitimate, ensure the sender is trusted before hitting a link or handing over any details. If in doubt, contact the company the sender claims to be from.

- Use strong and varied passwords across your gaming accounts. As we?ve seen this year, gaming companies get hacked and logins are leaked. If you don?t have different credentials, stealing one set could be a cybercriminal's key to open all your different accounts using that same password. Consider investing in a password manager, as it will give you simple, smart protection.

- Get an anti-virus. With rafts of gaming malware out there, and the increasing sophistication of malicious software, you?ll need some level of protection. You'll need AV that goes beyond signature-based detection to look at file reputation, if you want to stop the smartest malware getting on your system.

- Be careful whom you befriend. It's easy to make friends in virtual worlds today, but not all are doing so innocently. Beware of anyone who asks for your personal details, as they may want to do more than just contact you.

- Only download titles from legitimate sellers. If you're downloading an illegal copy of a game, you aren't just breaking the law. You also risk getting malware on your machine, as crooks often disguise game files as malicious software.

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