Based in Auckland, Rogan Mallon is a systems engineer for Symantec New Zealand. He is responsible for providing pre and post-sales assistance to customers and channel partners for Symantec’s portfolio of security solutions, including antivirus, firewall, intrusion prevention, early warning and alerting systems.
GC had a very informative chat with Rogan about the threat of online gaming viruses, and discovered that the business of stealing important online gaming account information is an extremely real threat and the people behind it mean business.
At present the two most active viruses gamers need to be aware of are the ‘Gamepass’ Trojan and the ‘Shufa32’ worm. The Trojan acts as a ‘backdoor’ allowing a malicious third party (person or group of people) access to all of your sensitive game related information. This is how the theft of your account details can occur. The ‘Shufa32’ worm is spread via MSN and email. These viruses are not necessarily spread by using online games but rather via the same methods used by similar Trojans and worms in the wild today.
One of the biggest problems, according to Rogan, is that often gamers will “forget to re-enable their virus scanners” after they have finished their online gaming session. And since both the ‘Shufa32’ and ‘Gamepass’ viruses are not that well known, Rogan believes that this enables the viruses to “remain undetected and under the radar”, increasing their ability to cause havoc for gamers.
Due to the evolving nature of online games today, security software - including virus scanners, constantly require updates to curb the threat and keep the greater computer-using public and gamers safe. But many of the people behind such cyber threats are driven purely by the opportunity for financial gain and there are many facets to this behaviour that gamers should be aware of.
Here are some of the key factors gamers should consider when playing online games. MMORPG gamers take particular note because the groups behind this activity are targeting gamers just like you:
• Use a virus scanner at all times and keep it up to date. Symantec currently provides a version of the Norton Antivirus software that is less intrusive for gamers and utilises a ‘silent’ mode when updating to avoid game-play interruption.
• Be aware! Complacent behaviour only increases the opportunity for people wanting to exploit and abuse online gamers
• Be informed. Knowing about the threats and what they can do to your computer and your gaming experience as a whole is an important step towards helping to stop this malicious behaviour
• Inform others. Use your community contacts to make more gamers aware. Use any access you have to gaming forums to communicate this message to other gamers who are or could be at risk
• Watch for any strange behaviour during your gaming sessions, particularly if people approach you in-game saying that they “know of someone who can help you get really good gear or gold/platinum etc. for a good price”. Usually, this means that you will be required to pay for these items with REAL money and more often than not, these items were probably stolen from someone else. Report any strange behaviour you experience to the appropriate in-game authorities (GM’s/guides etc.)
• Be very careful of what you click on when you use MSN or email. If you receive an unannounced invitation from someone you don’t know wanting to be a ‘friend’, chances are this will be the workings of a virus or someone wanting to exploit your important game related information.
We’d like to thank both Rogan Mallon from Symantec and Rachael Joel from Botica for this article.