Today, a new report by BBC News reveals that hackers are using free games infected with a crypto-mining malware called Crackonosh to make lots of digital money. Grand Theft Auto V, NBA 2k19, and Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 have been given away for free in forums. Researchers say that criminals have made more than $2m with the scam. Researchers at Avast say that the “cracked” games are spreading Crackonosh fast. The company is detecting about 800 cases on computers every day.
Avast also detects malicious software on devices only where it is installed so the number could be higher. Crackonosh has been found in more than a dozen countries with thousands of victims. Philipines has 18,448 victims, Brazil: 16,584 victims, India: 13, 779 victims, Poland: 12, 727 victims, United States: 11,856 victims, and the United Kingdom: 8,946 victims.
“Crackonosh shows that trying to get games for free can get you something you didn’t expect – malware,” Christopher Budd, from Avast said. “And we can see that this is highly profitable for the malware authors.” Avast believes that the creator of Crackonosh may be Czech due to the name. It means “mountain spirit” in Czech folklore.
It is not the only cyber attack on the gaming community this year. In fact, security company Akamai has detected a 340% increase in attacks on both gaming brands and gamers alike since 2019. Akamai security researcher Steve Ragan said “criminals are targeting gamers at an increasing pace. Gamers are a demographic known for spending money on their hobby and they’re highly engaged, making them a consistent resource for the criminal economy to mine.” Many of the attacks involved gaming accounts being stolen for their high-value in-game items, which are sold on hacking forums.
When Crackonosh is installed, the malware disables windows updates and uninstalls all security software. Then the program runs in the background, and without the owner knowing, can slow the computer down, wear out components through overuse and increase the victim’s electricity bill.