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South Korea’s Biggest Cybersecurity Firm: Video Games are Illicitly Mining Cryptocurrency

Ahnlab, the most widely utilized antivirus platform and the biggest cybersecurity company in South Korea, has revealed that hackers have started to inject malware into video game files uploaded on local file sharing platforms.

Warning Against Downloading Games

The vast majority of console users that utilize PS4 and Xbox purchase video games at stores or online, which come in packaged boxes and cases. It is difficult to utilize cracked or illegitimate versions of videogames on consoles and as such, users purchase video games directly from merchants even though they cost upwards to $120.

PC gamers rely on third party distributors such as Steam to purchase and download games from file sharing platforms. Steam is a digital distribution platform developed by Valve Corporation that allows gamers to safely buy and install games with digital rights from game developers.

Since games often cost in the range of $30 to $120, low budget gamers still rely on torrent files and zip files publicly available on torrent sharing or file sharing platforms. In South Korea, users can download movies, music, games, and files without restrictions on file sharing platforms for as low as $5 per month, saving hundreds of dollars to play both offline and online games.

However, low cost platforms and cracked versions of video games often come with risks of malware, ransomware, and virus. Because file sharing platforms cannot efficiently and properly monitor file uploaders, it is mainly upto the users to select and download legitimate files.

Recently, South Korea-based cybersecurity platform Ahnlab disclosed that most video games available on file sharing platforms contain malware which installs itself onto the computers or devices of users. Once the malware is present on a device, it begins to utilize the computing power and electricity of the device to mine cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum.

Once malware is installed into a device and it begins to run a cryptocurrency mining application in the background, it is no longer possible for the user to be aware about the operation. The sole method of removing cryptocurrency mining malware is by formatting the hard drive containing operating system files.

Ahnlab security response department (ASEC) executive Han Chang-kyu stated:

“Hackers utilize types of files that are popular amongst illegal torrent downloaders such as video games and movies to spread cryptocurrency-mining malware across the internet. Due to the increase in illicit torrent downloads, malware such as cryptocurrency-mining software has spread rapidly across file sharing platforms, placing users and their devices at risk.”

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Cryptocurrency-Related Malware Increase

As the cryptocurrency market evolves into a multi-trillion dollar market and sustain its current rate of growth, an increasing number of hackers will continue to target cryptocurrency users to potentially generate tokens through illegal mining and stealing funds directly from users.

Earlier this year, major antivirus development company Kaspersky revealed that new types of malware have emerged, designed specifically to extract funds from cryptocurrency users. One piece of malware that was recently discovered by Ethereum users replaced Ether addresses copied to the clipboard on laptops and PCs to the addresses of hackers, redirecting funds to different accounts to steal user funds.

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