Nowadays, you can no longer click on a link without being worried that you’ll end up getting annoying viruses and malware. Judging by all the reports, there’s a real pandemic on the internet. Unfortunately, this is not a theoretical threat but a bitter virtual reality. Cybercrime is more lucrative than ever and affects millions of victims worldwide. The risks are here even if you want to play an apparently harmless game.
What is Malware?
The term “malware” refers to all malicious software. In the early days of the internet, many people ventured to illegally download music and films via P2P networks. It didn’t take long before people noticed that something more was being downloaded than just the audio or video file. Computers crashed, the cursor took on a life of its own, and programs seemingly shut down or started up on their own. The phenomenon of ‘malware’ has made its appearance and has been an integral part of our digital society ever since.
Why is malware so harmful?
Cybercriminals can gain full or partial control over computers, laptops, tablets, or smartphones through malware. It is almost impossible to use your device in a normal way then. It is also possible to steal, delete or encrypt your data this way. This entails a lot of annoyance but also costs. In the worst case, you must call in an expert to remove the malware or buy a new device. In any case, you need to act quickly if your device has become infected.
Which games are most often infected with malware?
The fact that a gaming app is offered in an official app store does not mean it is entirely safe. You will be surprised how many and which games contain malware. Research has shown that Minecraft, in particular, is popular among cybercriminals. Between July 2021 and July 2022, no less than 131,000 players of this game were affected by malware. In second place is Roblox, with almost 39,000 victims, closely followed by Need for Speed (over 32,000) and Grand Theft Auto (31,752). The top 10 most infected games include names such as Call of Duty, FIFA, The Sims, Far Cry, CS:GO, and PUBG.
In more than 76% of the cases, this malware comes from RedLine Stealer. This form of malware is able to get hold of passwords, credit card details, cookies, and the automatic entry of login details, among other things.
If you suspect your device is infected with malware, you can try to remove the malware. Do not look for programs that promise this because that software can also be harmful. You can run a malware scan if you have a properly working antivirus installed. The antivirus software will recognize, isolate and eventually remove the malware. You may need to boot your computer in safe mode first. Make sure you have backed up all important files.
Prevention is still better than cure. Fortunately, you can take steps to minimize the risk of malware. To begin with, always choose strong passwords and never share them with others. A strong password contains upper and lower case letters, punctuation marks, numbers, and symbols. Consider using a passphrase. You can further secure your accounts by using multi-factor authentication.
Furthermore, it is crucial to install good antivirus software. Don’t forget to update it regularly as well. A gaming VPN increases your online privacy because you shield your IP address. A good VPN often has additional built-in features which filter out and block malware and viruses for you. And finally, always check whether the sites where you download your games are reliable.