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Computer games have been gaining in popularity probably at an exponential rate since the invention of the Etch-A-Sketch. The release of the next Xbox version or Nintendo model is headline news. And we all know people who spend more time in the virtual reality of World of Warcraft than they do in this world.

It’s easy to think of on-line games and the games played from consoles as, well, just games. That changed some time ago. That little (now very big) world has at least as many serious malware and social engineering threats as the other parts of the Internet.

Chris Boyd (AKA PaperGhost) the UK security researcher that Sunbelt Software just hired, made an hour-long video of a presentation he gave at a conference: “Game Over Man, Gamers under Fire.” (link to the video is halfway down page.)

He goes into quite a bit of detail about game console networks, payment systems, malicious software, denial-of-service attacks, cheats and social engineering. He also stresses the often overlooked point — where consoles are concerned – that although logins are still ultimately lost via phishing, there are sophisticated and blended attacks on the console and online gaming environment to reach that stage of trust in the first place.

Also, many companies now drop consoles onto their network via recreation rooms, with no inkling that the wrong move in an online gaming session could potentially open up players to targeted distributed denial-of-service attacks — not a good thing for a corporate network to attract!

Boyd lists the safe practices for gamers:

— NEVER give someone your system logins in exchange for ANYTHING.
— Don’t buy cheats, many sellers are malicious.
— Avoid the game cheats and other things that are sold on Youtube videos.
— If you have an account with a gaming company, remove your credit card number from the account if at all possible and don’t sign up for automatic renewal.
— Use pre-paid cards to pay for accounts rather than your credit card.
— Use aliases when you sign up for accounts.

He concludes in the video: “These [games] aren’t as safe and secure as people will try to make out that they are.”

The video is a good way for gamers to get up to speed on the huge number of threats out there.

Nice work PaperGhost.

Tom Kelchner