The total number of users who faced gaming-related malware and unwanted software from July 01, 2021, through June 30, 2022, was 384,224, with 91,984 files distributed across 28 games or series of games.
The figures came from a new Kaspersky report, which shed light on the most widespread and dangerous types of malware that players may encounter online.
In particular, the document analyzed the most widespread PC game–related threats and statistics on miner attacks, threats masquerading as game cheats and stealers. It also investigated several most active malware families, giving them detailed, in–depth characteristics.
“To limit the research scope, we analyzed several lists of most popular games and, based on this, created a list of TOP 28 games and game series available for download or about to be released on the streaming platforms Origin and Steam, as well as platform–independent titles,” the report read.
“Additionally, we looked at the phishing activity around gaming, specifically that related to cybersports tournaments, bookmakers, gaming marketplaces, and gaming platforms, and found numerous examples of scams that target gamers and esports fans.”
According to the report, the top five PC games or game series used as bait in the attacks targeting the largest number of users were Minecraft, Roblox, Need for Speed, Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty.
Further, in the first half of 2022, Kaspersky said they observed a noticeable increase in the number of users attacked by programs that can steal secrets, with a 13% increase over the first half of 2021.
In the same period, attackers also boosted up their efforts to spread Trojan–PSW: 77% of secret-stealing malware infection cases were linked to Trojan–PSW.
In terms of types of threats, Kaspersky said the overall landscape that affects gamers had not changed much since last year, with downloaders (88.56%) topping the list of malicious and unwanted software being spread using the names of popular games.
Adware (4.19%) comes second, followed by Trojans (2.99%) and DangerousObject (0.86%).
“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,” Kaspersky wrote. “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.”
The cybersecurity company also released a series of recommendations for players to stay safe while gaming. These include the use of two–factor authentication (2FA), unique and strong passwords, and only downloading games from official stores.
The Kaspersky research document is not the only one recently analyzing cyber–threats targeting the gaming industry. A similar report published by cybersecurity firm Akamai suggested cyber–attacks in the gaming sector have increased by 167% in the last year.