Cyber Beware: E-Gaming And Cyber-Criminality – Security

GamerCityNews Firm-News Cyber Beware: E-Gaming And Cyber-Criminality - Security

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Recent events illustrate that the e-gaming
industry—developers, publishers, esports leagues and teams,
and the financial machinations behind them—are significant
targets for cyberattacks, theft and cyber-criminality. Recently,
U.S. law enforcement linked the Lazarus Group, which is reported to
be connected to the North Korean government, to the $540 million
hack of Axie Infinity (an online game). As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the U.S.
Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control reported
that the “Lazarus Group is the owner of the cryptocurrency
address used in the hack.”

Another major video game developer and publisher experienced a
cyberattack reportedly resulting in the exfiltration of more
than three-fourths of a terabyte of data. The exfiltrated data
reportedly includes source code, software development kits and game
engines. News reports indicate that the threat
actors accessed the system through Slack channels, stolen
authentication cookies and (apparently) a well-executed spear
phishing attack to secure multifactor authentication tokens.
Simultaneously, other recent reports have described malware hiding in gaming platforms through profile
images, like malware injection through website

Meanwhile, esports has become big business and mainstream, with
huge amounts of data and significant capital transactions.
League of Legends tournament was featured in
the Netflix documentary 7
Days Out
, and Sports Illustrated‘s July 2021 cover
story was about an esports team. Even the Olympics reportedly
is considering including esports.

The combination of threat actors looking toward the video game
industry and the rise of esports indicates how important it is for
the industry and esports platforms and leagues to increase their
cybersecurity awareness. As with other technology developments, the
risk is ever present to the individual, in their home, to their
personal computing devices and to their financial accounts. As
presently situated, the industry and esports present attractive
targets to cyber threat actors. The following are a few examples of
areas that need significant attention.

First, attackers may seek player or subscriber
account information. Many games today—from MMORPGs and
Web3-based platforms to sports and real-time strategy games, and
everything in between—include online play or DLC components.
For those, the publisher may be collecting significant amounts of
information about the players—information with significant
market value to marketers and threat
actors, such as payment information, geolocation, crypto addresses,
or other personal information valuable for phishing and other
social engineering attacks against individuals and their
employers. Recent news reports about posting social
media profiles to websites for use in social engineering attacks
underscore this risk.

Second, attackers could seek to use video games
to deploy and execute malicious code. As seen with the methodology behind 2020’s SUNBURST
attack, insecure video games could be an attack vector for
threat actors through malicious code injection. For video games
that run on personal computers or smartphones, the malicious code
could be used to access non-game data stored on the device once the
malicious code has access to the device through local execution.
(Given graphics needs, it may be difficult to run the game in
a sandbox.) The reported profile images in gaming platform
malware appears to contain code looking to see if a
particular business communication platform is installed; a threat
actor might seek to access confidential business information
exchanged using that platform and stored on the local device.

Games offered only for play on a dedicated gaming device may
still remain attractive targets. Attackers may seek to infect the
device with botnet code to execute attacks on other devices or
computers. Or the malware could open a back door into a closed
network by executing inside the firewall and modem on a home
network and delivering payloads to other devices on the local
network, including computers and smartphones, without the added
defenses of execution outside of the local network.

Third, attackers could discover vulnerabilities
to be exploited in league esports play. As with any gaming or
sports, it is important for the success of the franchise that the
playing field is viewed as fair and clean and free of corruption. Esports already have anti-doping programs. If
an esports team could gain access to game source code or engines,
through access to stolen source codes or game engines, they may be
able to develop unknown tactics to exploit logic errors in the
game. This should be expected; it happens in all sports. Baseball
has a long history of sign stealing and modifying game gear, and football teams have been accused of
manipulating the playing surface or adjusting the
air pressure in the ball. Further growth of esports requires
ensuring that confidential source code and game engines are not
used to exploit errors in league play. Similarly, with the
increased popularity of online gambling, exploiting vulnerabilities
discovered through cybersecurity incidents could be used for match
fixing. Both exfiltrated exploits and match fixing could impact the
further development and growth of esports.

Fourth, a high-profile esports event may be a
valuable target for a disruptive attack, such as malware. If an
esports league’s systems were disrupted by ransomware on the
eve of the finals, the league may face higher pressure to promptly
pay the ransom so the finals can proceed. It is possible that
esports leagues (or teams) could be viewed as better targets
because, unlike hospitals and the like, threat actors may view
esports as apolitical and unlikely to violate any purported
“codes of conduct.” Esports is not (yet) like soccer
or other sports with national teams that may dissuade
nation-state-affiliated threat actors from interfering.

In short, the gaming industry and esports present attractive
targets to threat actors for many reasons. The backbone
participants must address cybersecurity concerns seriously, and
each must ensure it has a robust and established security and
compliance program to reduce and mitigate potential risk and

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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