Minecraft most malware-infected game on the market with 228k users affected

Edward G. | October 6, 2021

As people are looking for ways to unwind at home, the gaming industry has been one of the primary places people set their eyes on. Not only is it a way to entertain yourself for hours on end, but it is also a place for people to connect, which is otherwise hard to do during the pandemic. 

According to data presented by the Atlas VPN team, 303,827 individuals’ devices were affected by gaming-related malware and unwanted software between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.

Mobile games are also a major threat for gamers. As many as 50,644 users attempted to download 10,488 unique files disguised as the ten most-played mobile games, generating a total of 332,570 detections.

Minecraft was by far the most popular game on both PC and mobile platforms for dangerous app distributors to hide behind. On PC, nearly 185 thousand users were impacted with over 3 million malware detections. Unwanted software includes files like adware, spyware, and so on.

This study includes data from the Kaspersky Security Network, which analyzes anonymized cybersecurity data provided voluntarily by Kaspersky product users.

It is worth noting that Minecraft was also the most commonly used game title for masking cyber threats on mobile platforms. Upwards of 44 thousand gamers were affected, with close to 303 thousand unique detections between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.

There are various versions of Minecraft and a plethora of mods (modifications that may be placed on top of the basic game to diversify gameplay) may account for its enormous popularity. Because mods are unofficial and developed by users, they can be used to hide dangerous payloads or undesirable software.

Another one of the most well-known game titles worldwide, The Sims 4, was the second most often used title to distribute unwanted files. Over 43 thousand users were troubled, with detections closing in on 1.3 million.  

PUBG, the online multiplayer battle royale game known to most gamers, is third on the list, with close to 27 thousand players affected and upwards of 484 thousand detections. PUBG mobile is also among the titles most commonly used to mask malicious software on smartphones and tablets. Around 1.5 thousand users were impacted, and 9 thousand detections were uncovered by Kaspersky antivirus software.

Fortnite, with close to 27 thousand users affected and over 267 thousand detections, together with Grand Theft Auto V (14 thousand victims and 187 thousand detections), closes down the top 5 list of the most popular game titles used to mask malware and unwanted programs. 

On the mobile side, Among US, Free Fire, and Brawl Stars are in the top 5 list. Even though there are substantially fewer infections on the mobile side, users should still be cautious when downloading games from unknown sites.

As the gaming industry is not going to slow down anytime soon, gamers should stay on their toes and be mindful of their activities online. With new titles being released daily, fraudsters are also creating countless phishing sites to dupe victims into downloading infected installers. 

Security tips for gamers

  • Protect your accounts with two-factor authentication (2-FA) whenever possible. 
  • Use strong passwords for your accounts, with a different one for each. That way, even if one of your accounts is compromised, the remainder will remain unaffected.
  • Downloading games from official retailers such as Steam, Apple App Store, Google Play, or Amazon Appstore is safer. These marketplaces aren't completely safe, but they are at least examined by store staff, and there is some sort of screening procedure in place: not every app is allowed into these stores.
  • If you want to buy a game that isn't accessible in major stores, you should do it through the official website. Make sure to double-check the website's URL to avoid impostor sites.
  • Be cautious of phishing campaigns and unfamiliar players. If you are unsure about the sender, do not open links you receive via email or in a gaming chat. Do not open files sent to you by strangers.
Edward G.

Edward G.

Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. My mission is to scan the ever-evolving cybercrime landscape to inform the public about the latest threats.

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