Akamai said the growing value in gaming has attracted more criminals seeking to disrupt online games and steal valuable player accounts.
Cyberattacks targeting the gaming industry have risen rapidly amid the sector’s recent boom, according to a new report from Akamai Technologies.
Akamai noted that the gaming industry experienced a major boost amid Covid-related lockdowns and social distancing. This growth hasn’t slowed down, but the rising value has attracted the attention of cybercriminals.
The company’s latest State of the Internet report said web application attacks on gaming companies and player accounts have grown by 167pc in the last 12 months, impacting millions of gamers around the world.
The report said these attacks put player accounts at risk of being compromised, which can result in the selling of gaming accounts and the theft of personal information such as card card details.
Akamai said the gaming industry is the most targeted sector for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, with 37pc of all DDoS attacks hitting this sector. The company said this is an “overwhelming amount” as the second most targeted vertical is the financial sector at 22pc.
Large-scale DDoS attacks can take games offline and affect thousands of players in a matter of seconds. The report said they can also be more targeted, increasing latency to give one player an advantage over others.
“As gaming activity has increased and evolved, so has the value of disrupting it through cyberattacks,” said Akamai senior strategist Jonathan Singer. “Cybercriminals typically disrupt live services and co-opt credentials to steal gaming assets.”
The report noted that changes in the gaming landscape are opening up new targets for cybercriminals. For example, the growth in cloud gaming has also increased the industry’s “overall attack surface”, creating new avenues for hackers.
The growth in microtransactions also represents an incentive for criminals, as many of these purchased products are linked to player accounts. It is estimated that the microtransaction market will reach a value of $106bn by 2026, creating a massive target for attackers.
“Basically, cybercriminals know there is value in gaming, and they will continue to invent ways of getting it or exploiting the flow of virtual funds,” Akamai stated in the report.
Last year, game publisher EA became the victim of a cyberattack, when hackers claimed to steal 780GB of data that included the source code of various games.
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