More than two in five (42%) UK gamers have experienced a cyber-attack targeting their gaming account or device, according to a new study from NortonLifeLock.
The most common types of cyber-attacks affecting gamers included detecting malicious software on a gaming device (20%), having in-game digital currency, characters or other items stolen (12%) and detecting unauthorized access to an online gaming account (12%). Of the 42% who experienced an attack, over three-quarters (78%) reported being financially affected as a result, losing an average of £145.
Nearly one in five (19%) hardcore gamers revealed they have been doxxed, a process in which their personal information was stolen and shared publicly online.
The survey of 700 UK adults who currently play online games also uncovered some alarming trends around gamer-to-gamer cyber risks. Over a quarter (28%) of respondents admitted they are at least somewhat likely to hack the gaming account of a friend, family member or romantic partner if they knew it would give them a competitive advantage in an online game. Among hardcore gamers, this sentiment rose to 48%.
Additionally, 43% of all the UK gamers surveyed said they are at least somewhat likely to exploit a loophole or bug in a game. A third (34%) admitted they would install cheats to their gaming account or devices, 30% would pay to take possession of another user’s gaming account and 29% would be willing to hack into the gaming account of a gaming player.
The report quoted ‘BigCheeseKIT,’ a gamer and Twitch streamer, who warned online gamers: “These findings are jarring, but there are some gamers out there that will do whatever it takes to win. I’ve learned that when you’re gaming online, it’s so important to be mindful of who you are friends with online and what information you share when gaming online. While this is especially true for professional gamers who have that public profile, it’s clear this goes for any online gamer.”
The report also found that poor cybersecurity practices are prevalent among UK gamers, making them vulnerable to attack. For example, around half use the same username (54%) and password (46%) for more than one gaming account. Additionally, 38% admitted using public Wi-Fi to play games online, 37% have shared personal information, such as names and birthdays while playing a game online, 29% have downloaded a cheaper or free version of a game and 29% have downloaded add-ons from a website not associated with the game distributor.
Armin Buescher, technical director at NortonLifeLock, commented: “Scammers know that – for both experienced and casual gamers – cheats, skins and limited edition items are highly sought after.
“Offering these competitive boosts is a perfect opportunity to share malicious links or trick gamers into downloading malware that, if successful, can rob players of their gaming profile, personal information or more. Having security that specifically helps protect against these threats can give players peace of mind so they can focus on the enjoyment of the game itself.”
There have been numerous high-profile data breaches of online gamers this year. These include the accidental leak of nearly six million player profiles for the popular title Battle for the Galaxy in June 2021.