Fake Minecraft updates are leaving thousands with infected PCs

The number of video game-related cyberthreats and attacks has seen a significant rise in recent months, research has revealed.

New figures from Kaspersky suggests gamers should be on the lookout for a wide range of possible threats, from phishing scams to malware downloads masquerading as updates or bonus features.

But far from embracing the newest and most advanced gaming platforms and titles, it seems that criminals and scammers often choose something a bit more low-tech to target victims, with Minecraft found to be the most popular lure for security threats.

Minecraft security threats

Kaspersky said that, when examining threats between July 2021 and July 2022, Minecraft was used for around a quarter (25%) of malicious files it detected, recording 23,239 incidents, followed by FIFA (11%), Roblox (9.5%), Far Cry (9.4%), and Call of Duty (9%).

Minecraft also topped the list of mobile malware threats, with the game being used as a lure for 40% of detected incidents, ahead of GTA (15%), PUBG (10%), Roblox (10%) and FIFA (5%).

However, Kaspersky noted that the total number of malicious and unwanted files related to Minecraft actually decreased by 36% compared to the previous year, with the number of affected users also falling by almost 30% year on year (131,005 against 184,887).

Overall, Kaspersky said it recorded 384,224 incidents of users encountering gaming-related malware and unwanted software over the monitored period, with 91,984 files distributed linked to twenty eight particularly popular games or series of games.

The company issued a particular warning concerning cheat programs that claim to offer new ways for gamers to succeed, but actually just contain malware and unwanted software – noting that it had seen 3,154 unique files of this type affecting 13,689 users.

“Over the years, the gaming industry has grown more and more, and we expect to see new ways of abusing users next year, e.g. by exploiting the theme of esports, which are now gaining popularity around the world,” said the firm. “That is why it is so important to stay protected, so you do not lose your money, credentials, or gaming account, which you have built over the years.”

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