Were you once a World of Warcraft fanatic? Online gaming has significantly increased in popularity amidst pandemic-related stay-at-home orders. In Q2 of 2020, online gaming usage increased by 30% as compared with Q1. With the uptick, hacks directed towards gamers have also increased. Across April, May and June, 31% of video game login attempts were fraudulent, an increase of 11% over the prior year.

Online fraudsters commonly use stolen account passwords to access gamers’ assets. One 16 year-old found that someone had logged into his account via an IP address in Moldova. In another instance, the discovery of a hack catalyzed a chain reaction, forcing a parent to change passwords across Apple, PayPal, American Express and Google online portals.

“We don’t know what is linked to what anymore,” and while “The monetary loss was very small, but the effort to protect ourselves was big,” said a young gamer’s parent.

With gaming hacks, the amount of money that hackers siphon from each account is largely negligible, with the occasional exception. As the Wall Street Journal puts it, “It’s a high-volume business.” In addition to actual dollar amounts in gaming accounts, hackers can steal and easily sell virtual avatars and digital coins on the dark web.

Some gaming companies have policies stating that stolen digital goods cannot be replaced, and that the onus falls on the gamer to secure the account. A big ask, given the young age of most gaming participants.

Keys to gaming fraud protection:

  • Two-factor authentication
  • Strong passwords
  • Parental controls

For additional information on recent online gaming hacks, visit The Wall Street Journal.