It was bound to happen of course, just as it's possible to make money online, there is a huge potential for cyber crime in every area we use the internet for and this includes online games.
Online Gamer Steals Fortune
The story describes how a young girl fools a fellow gamer into handing over his password. She said
If you love me, give me your password to prove it.
The young boy foolishly handed over his account password, and the girl then stole all his online wealth and gear including armour, weapons and whatever else you can acquire. She didn't realise she was committing a crime after all she wasn't really stealing anything real although the online wealth did have a real value of several hundred dollars.
Mind you the comment, said a lot about this lovely young lady !
'When he discovered his loss, he begged me to return it to him, but I didn't,' she said.
So at least our young player will have learnt a valuable lesson to apply to his real life, and only at the loss of some online possessions. Although this is a trivial example between two kids, the facts is that these online games are attracting huge numbers of cyber criminals with the potential for massive rewards.
Go into any online game and you'll probably find people buying and selling items for real money, the most popular are online gold (in exchange for real cash) and power levelling services, which involves paying someone to boost your characters level and power for you. Just the selling of gold in the game World of Warcraft is a huge multi-million pound business.
As such there are numerous methods for online game crime, ranging from the girls method above to the more straight forward methods such as stealing game account names and passwords.
Trojan-PSW.Win32, Trojan-SPY.Win32.Delf, Trojan-PSW.WIn32 - these are just a very small selection of malicious programs and malware which are targeted at a very specific range of people - online game players.
So how does Online Game crime Target gamers?
It's actually fairly easy to do, the above programs are specifically designed to steal account names and passwords to popular online games. Once the criminals have access to your account they simply transfer all your online possessions and sell them on to other players, it's real cyber mugging and it's happening now.
All the criminals have to do is to infiltrate forums for these games, hide the malware in emails, programs and graphics to slowly infiltrate games PCs. Let me give you an example a common attack involves spreading a program which enables you to cheat or level up easily in one these games, anything that will give your average online game player an advantage will soon spread. You promise some handy macro which allows you to level your character undetected automatically while you sleep, in reality all it does is install the malware to email your account details to an online criminal in China.
The malware will also include a worm which sends itself to all the names in your email address list (whom many are likely to be game players as well) The result could be thousands of stolen accounts which earn the cyber criminal thousands of dollars at a very conservative estimate.
It's very big business, because of the rewards and the minimal risk of being caught. The theft of most online game passwords is centred around China and South Korea. The numbers are huge and spreading all the time - back in 2006 there were over 4500 specific worms or viruses written for online game crime, I'm unsure of the exact number now but would feel fairly sure it hasn't gone down!