The Perils of Pirated Games
Adware, Trojans, and other malware are reasons not to download pirated games.
As long as gamers seek free programmes in the form of unlicensed copies, cracks, and other goodies, hackers will prey on them, and we will continue to highlight the risks they face. Here are a few we’ve discovered in the last year.
Cyberattacks On Gamers
Our specialists investigated how hackers profited from gamers who scrimped on both gaming and security, resulting in unexpected apps being downloaded alongside (or instead of) the games they believed they were playing.
Do You Want Some Advertisements?
Adware is one of the most common surprises that greedy gamers discover in their favourite games. Adware, while not usually hazardous, can be highly bothersome. With this unwelcome visitor on their computer or smartphone, users will frequently close advertisements, pop-up videos, and browser sites that they did not visit.
Cryptomining Is A Perennial Threat.
Cryptominers score significantly higher than adware in the spectrum of undesirable things people might obtain from unlicensed games. Gamers, with their beefed-up PCs and beefy visual cards, are great targets for bitcoin freeloaders – and a miner hidden inside a game with high system requirements can go undetected for a long period, during which the computer is working for a hostile third party.
Danger At The Top Of Search Results, Swarez
Most gamers are aware that the best location to purchase official games is from a specialist store like Steam. They employ search engines to find “Minecraft cracks” or “no-virus FIFA.” Cybercriminals exploit this by creating websites that sell free keys, cracks, and unlocked versions of games, as well as Trojans, and then pushing them to the top of search results. They can even upload infected, pirated copies to existing warez sites.
The Swarez loader is delivered in this manner. Users attempting to get, say, Minecraft cracks are routed through a lengthy series of redirects to a page containing a ZIP package containing another password-protected ZIP and a text file containing a key. Unzipping the archive instals Swarez on the victim’s device, where it proceeds to download Taurus malware, a Trojan that steals crypto-wallets, desktop files, passwords, and other data stored in browsers. Fake Minecraft is aimed at Android users.
Minecraft is still a favourite malware bait, even on smartphones and tablets. We discovered more than 20 dangerous apps disguised as game mods on Google Play in 2020, and we observed a repetition this year.
The game also acts as a front for the Hqwar malware, which reports an installation error and asks the user to delete the application. In reality, this just eliminates the icon; the spyware continues in stealth mode, harvesting online bank details.
Vesub Trojan Under The Guise Of Brawl Stars and PUBG
Vesub is another example of devious spyware that lurks in unlicensed versions of Brawl Stars and PUBG on Android.
When the malware is launched, it appears to load very slowly – and then nothing. When the victim realises the game isn’t functioning, he or she abandons it. At that time, the symbol vanishes from the screen, but the Trojan stays on the device and begins to work.
What’s really going on during that phoney setup is data collection. Vesub gathers system data and waits for additional instructions. The malware can then run in the background and subscribe the victim to premium services, send text messages from their smartphone, watch YouTube videos, view app pages on Google Play, and open advertising websites.
There’s also Phishing.
You should know by now that downloading unlicensed games is significantly more of a hassle than it’s worth. If this is the case, your gaming experience has just gotten a lot safer. However, you should be aware of another way cybercriminals take advantage of gamers’ need for freebies: by providing 99% off bundles of games; promising mountains of free or near-free in-game cash; and inviting people to participate in nonexistent tournaments.
Cybercriminals steal victims’ e-mail addresses, social network identities and login passwords, and gaming information by hiding behind popular titles such as FIFA 21 and Apex Legends, as well as GTA Online and Pokemon Go. Even in the absence of passwords, such material commands a premium on the dark web. Is it necessary to emphasise that by entering your password on an unauthorised site, you risk losing your account?
Worse, if the victim agrees to provide payment card information for “verification.” You’re all too aware of what occurs next.
How to Get Risk-Free Games
The dangers that gamers encounter are not novel nor exceptional. Despite the fact that gamers appear to be a generally risk-averse community, you can practise safe gaming by following some simple guidelines:
- Only buy games (yep, buy them) from official retailers. You may still save money on video games while avoiding pitfalls. Publishers, for example, offer regular deals and even host rare giveaways. By waiting for official discounts, you not only reduce the risk of malware infection but also support the developers and ensure that the latest patches for your favourite games are available on time.
- When downloading games, use caution. Malicious pages that purport to be well-known online stores are frequently promoted by cyber criminals. Unfortunately, you cannot totally rely on search engines in this case. Simply download the platform’s official app (if it has one), bookmark its website, or manually enter the URL.
- When purchasing loot boxes or other virtual products, follow our basic security guide: One rule is to never trust dodgy websites that advertise cheap unique skins, weaponry, and so forth.
- Check the security settings of the services you use, and read our tips on how to safeguard your accounts on Steam, Battle.net, Origin, Discord, Twitch, and other platforms.
- Install a trustworthy antivirus solution on your PC and smartphone, and never turn it off. Antivirus software, contrary to popular belief, does not cause game slowness.