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Leading security solution provider Kaspersky says in less than a year-the past nine months the company has detected and blocked over 5.8 million attacks from malware and other “unwanted software” masquerading as popular PC games.

According to security analysts, Cyber-attackers are targeting gamers with increased frequency. As more people find themselves staying indoors and playing games, gaming-related cyber-threats are rising.

Mobile gaming saw a sharp uptick in game-related threats too, as the pandemic began to unfold. Kaspersky did an audit of malware threats targeted at PC and mobile gamers, and found that attacks disguised as the 24 most popular PC games and top 10 mobile titles “soared with the introduction of lockdowns” last year.

Most of the malware samples detected were downloaders, software designed to covertly fetch and install malware on infected devices, as well as serve up adware.

However, Kaspersky noted that some of the threats disguised as gaming software presented more immediate threats. These included a range of Trojans designed to steal various user data, swipe banking login credentials, and install backdoors so attackers can more easily navigate around any security blockades that might be in place.

According Kaspersky Security Researcher Anton V. Ivanov said the company witnessed a clear effect of the pandemic on the number of gaming-related threats.

“As more people switched to gaming, more users faced threats that were disguised as games. Attackers commonly attempted to lure gamers through phishing pages,” said Anton V. Ivanov.

Anton V. Ivanov said these pages are very hard to tell apart from real sites for regular users. “Another attack vector is warez sites-in particular, we have traced a well-coordinated campaign that distributed a dangerous dropper via such sites, affecting users in 45 countries,” said Kaspersky security researcher.

One of Kaspersky’s recommendations is to “avoid buying the first thing that pops,” advice it says gamers should take to heart “even during Steam’s summer sale.”

“Try to at least read some reviews before forking out for a little-known title. If something is fishy, people will probably figure it out, and this will come out in user comments,” Kaspersky says.

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