The video game industry has recently become a prime target for cyberattacks. The industry continues to grow, with new platforms and products emerging every day. Changes in social structures and unforeseen circumstances around the world, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have contributed to the recent growth of the video game industry. According to Newzoo’s Global Gaming Market Report, approximately 3.09 billion people spent $203.1 billion on games in 2022.
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The shift to cloud systems has influenced the growth of the gaming industry, with many gaming companies implementing cloud-based gaming infrastructure. According to Brandessence market research, the cloud gaming market size reached USD 609.67 million in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 7.382 billion by the end of 2028. The cloud system allows users to play games almost anywhere without device restrictions or the need for up-to-date hardware. Mobile gaming is also growing rapidly, giving users greater flexibility and mobility, allowing them to play more games on more devices.
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The more devices and users, the larger the attack surface. The video game industry has a huge user base, which means there are a lot of potential victims and sensitive data. Including the financial aspects of the gaming industry, the scope and targets of attacks on the gaming industry have reached enormous levels.
Threat actors choose to target game developers and companies that create software and hardware. Malicious actors attempt to steal sensitive personal data from the source code, development kits, or user and employee data of a gaming company.
These attacks disrupt online services and gaming network infrastructure, resulting in financial and reputational losses for businesses and weakening user loyalty. Once personal data is leaked from their systems, companies become liable to numerous legal regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and financial sanctions.
Cybersecurity Threats From Online Gaming
Threat actors are targeting gamers’ data, accounts, virtual currency, or merchandise. Data collected from players includes profile data such as credentials, credit card information, game success, game rankings, messages, and contact lists. For players, progressing through the game takes time and is difficult. Malicious actors can steal players’ accounts, rename them, and sell them to gain gaming experience.
In-game microtransactions are an important financial element in the video game industry. Players can use virtual currency to purchase generous game gadgets, character skins, and character upgrades, and exchange real money for virtual items. According to a report by Business Research Company, the online micropayment market is expected to reach $106.02 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 11.9%. Many players’ payment methods are tied to their player accounts due to microtransactions, making these accounts a target for attackers looking for payment information.
Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which consume enormous resources, are also a threat to gamers and gaming companies. DDoS attacks aimed at significantly slowing down or disrupting services have the greatest impact on the gaming industry. According to Akamai’s “Gaming Respawned” report, DDoS attacks targeting the gaming industry account for 37% of all DDoS attacks.
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Malware is a method used to steal player information. Users who prefer third-party sellers over official ones and download games from untrustworthy sites may download malware designed to steal personal data. Attackers often use famous games with many fans or recently released games to spread malware. Players sometimes use cheat codes to gain an advantage in the game, and cybercriminals can use these fake cheat software to distribute malware to steal players’ data.
Ransomware attacks have the potential to disrupt the gaming industry across all verticals. Ransomware attackers specifically focus on using double extortion methods to disrupt gaming systems and demand ransom by threatening to reveal sensitive user information and/or game source code.
Phishing using social engineering techniques is another approach used by attackers. Malicious actors can chat with players through in-game chat or other social media platforms to gain players’ trust and convince participants to share sensitive data.
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However, attackers can use phishing websites to gain access to credentials by asking players to submit user account details. For example, webpages that replicate the user interface of popular game retailers or websites that offer fake gifts to win in-game currency or items.
Another weakness that attackers exploit to take over accounts is the habit of most users of logging in with the same password across multiple platforms and choosing predictable passwords. Therefore, credential stuffing can give an attacker access to a user’s account.
Rockstar Attack: On September 18, 3GB of footage of Rockstar Games’ unreleased GTA6 edition of the Grand Theft Auto series was shared on GTAForum by a user nicknamed “Teapoyuberhacher”. He is accused of stealing the entire source code of GTA5 and the first source code of GTA6. The attackers claimed that the video was created by attacking a Rockstar employee’s Slack channel. Rockstar confirmed the breach, claiming that an unauthorized third party illegally accessed confidential data on Rockstar systems.
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An alleged sensitive data leak for GTA 5 and GTA6 has been detected on a hacker forum monitored by .
2K Games Attack: 2K Games, owned by the same parent company as Rockstar Games, was attacked the same week as Rockstar. The attacker accessed the company’s support platform and sent users emails infected with malware. 2K Games has disabled its support portal. It was determined that the attacker gained access to the system by gaining unauthorized access to the credentials of one of the vendors.
Roblox Attack: With over 37 million players, Roblox is one of the largest gaming platforms in the world and allows users to create games in the corporate world. Last July, security researchers discovered that 4GB of Roblox company data had been exposed. Data obtained from Roblox employees through social engineering includes emails, spreadsheets from multiple games, and personal information from other Roblox employees and content creators. Unidentified attackers released some of this data on the dark web. Roblox confirmed that the stolen documents were obtained illegally as part of an extortion attempt, in which it denies participating.
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Bandai Namco Attack: Bandai Namco, publisher of popular games such as Tekken and Elden Ring, announced in July that it had been attacked. The ALPHV ransomware group, also known as BlackCat, posted the name Bandai Namco on a dark web blog on July 11. Bandai Namco announced on July 13 that it had suffered damage that could result in loss of customer personal information due to a cyber attack that occurred on July 3. .
Neopets Attack: In July, 69 million Neopets membership records and source code were sold for 4BTC. The Neopets company confirmed that its computer systems were compromised between January 2021 and July 2022, exposing 69 million user accounts and source code. Your name, email address, username, date of birth, gender, IP address, Neopets PIN and hashed passwords, as well as any data generated during gameplay were all compromised.
NVIDIA Attack: In 2022, the Lapsus$ group gained attention for a series of attacks against several tech giants, including graphics card manufacturer NVIDIA. Lapsus$ claimed to have stolen 1TB of data from NVIDIA systems. In response to the data, they asked NVIDIA to completely open up its GPU drivers and remove all restrictions on cryptocurrency miners.
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On February 23, NVIDIA detected a cyberattack and confirmed that employee credentials and confidential NDVIA data were stolen from its systems.
Considering the XTI platform database, there are 382 dark web posts related to the gaming industry reported by dark web analysts in 2022. The most active threat actor is ‘Flowercower’. “ According to the research team’s analysis, the distribution of cyber attacks in the gaming industry by country in 2022 is as follows.
More than half (62%) of attacks affect users globally. These results are consistent with the geographically unbounded nature of the gaming industry.
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For a safer gaming experience, both major components of the gaming industry must take necessary precautions. In this context, players must:
Game developers, on the other hand, are responsible for the safety of their systems and players. Many users are young children who have not yet developed an awareness of cybersecurity. Additionally, many users who simply play games for fun, relaxation, or competition do not worry about major security issues. Therefore, game developers must compensate for their customers’ lack of security awareness and invest in appropriate security solutions.
As the 2022 cyberattacks show, the starting point for many attacks is the capture of employee information through social engineering. As a result, organizations must effectively educate their employees about phishing and other cybersecurity threats. Additionally, businesses must be sensitive to employee credential leaks. Using our Extended Threat Intelligence (XTI) products, businesses can leverage cyber threat intelligence gathered from the surface and dark web and take proactive action against attackers and credential leaks targeting their industry. Due to their high visibility, international sporting events and organizations have become targets for cybercriminals and nation-state threat actors. The UK’s National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) said in a report on cyber threats to sports organizations that while cybercrime targeting primarily takes the form of business email compromises, cyber fraud and ransomware, the state typically targets these organizations for espionage. and cybercrime. sabotage.
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Online gambling and esports were also affected.
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