Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cyber crooks target gamers

By P. ARUNA aruna@thestar.com.my




SERI KEMBANGAN: Cyber crooks have now set up fake gaming sites to steal information from Internet surfers.

They are also stealing personal information from online gamers and selling virtual gaming items like weapons to other players.

Cybersecurity Malaysia, which is an agency under the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, said cyber criminals were targeting gaming websites and had spread their wings to Malaysia, with five cases reported so far.

“Gaming websites have already become a lucrative business for cyber criminals in South Korea and China,” said Cybersecurity Malaysia vice-president (cyber security responsive services) Adli Abd Wahid.

Gamers are spending more money on online gaming, purchasing ‘battle tanks’, ‘avatars’ and other virtual gadgets and tools needed to advance to higher levels of a certain online game.

“Cyber crooks can steal the usernames and passwords of users who have advanced to a certain level in a game, and sell the account to buyers who want to continue playing the game from that level.”

Adli said that since many gamers preferred not to waste time starting from the lowest levels, they were willing to buy from cyber crooks.

The crooks could also steal the virtual weapons and gadgets from compromised accounts and sell them to other players.

Adli estimated that 99% of phishing websites targeting Malaysians were created and operated overseas, with foreign syndicates often hiring locals as “money mules” to transfer stolen money to foreign bank accounts.

The number of phishing sites detected in Malaysia rose from 634 cases in 2009 to 1,426 reports that were lodged last year.

IDC Market Research (M) Sdn Bhd associate analyst Devtar Singh said there were currently an estimated 7.3 million online gamers in Malaysia.

International anti-phishing service provider Internet Identity (IID) reported that the attacks were expected to rise with the global online gaming industry generating over US$15bil (RM44bil) annually, making it a strong target for criminals.

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