Historically, Infostealer.Gampass threats focused on stealing registration keys for popular video games, allowing the attacker to play the game without paying for it. However, as the popularity of online video games rose, criminals looking to make money illegally began to take more notice.
While registration keys could be sold in the underground economy, a much more enticing market is in-game items. Given the high premium some users were willing to pay for such items, a portion of the underground economy has developed that focus on stealing and then selling such items below the legitimate market price.How do these threats arrive on a computer?
While there are many different avenues to infection, the more common methods include file-sharing networks and online forum posts.
In the file-sharing realm, hackers often make their threat available under the guise of cracks, enhancements, or mods for a popular game. When a user downloads the files the Trojan is often bundled alongside the intended download. In other cases, the intended download may not be included at all, leaving the user with nothing but a Trojan when the download is run.
These threats are usually obtained through game forums, linked by spammed comments in various discussions. A spammer may offer a solution to a gaming problem requiring a download, or simply add unrelated comments to a thread.
In both cases, the threats are often tailored to the specific game in question, be it the file-sharing search result or the forum the user is in. Given the intended goal in either situation, the user generally has the game installed on their computer, and if the threat is run, the information is successfully stolen by the hackers.What games are targeted?
While there are a number of threats that focus on different games, the Infostealer.Gampass detection classifies threats based on the stealing of gaming credentials, rather than a specific threat or game. If a threat is logging game credentials, it will generally be detected by Symantec products as Infostealer.Gampass.What is the goal of these threats?
While in some cases a hacker may use a stolen account to play the game, the original user can often change their password or disable the account once they realize the theft has taken place. Given this, the underlying goal of most threats detected as Infostealer.Gampass is to obtain in-game items. The accounts gathered by hackers using such threats are often cleared of in-game items, selling them off to other players in-game, or by putting them up for sale on online auction sites. Are there any tell-tale signs?
While the actual actions carried out by these threats generally goes unnoticed, the end result is not. A user may one day, upon logging into their game, find that their in-game items are gone. I other cases, they may not be able to log in at all. This could either be because the hacker has changed their password, or their account has been banned by the game administrators.What are the risks?
The largest risk is the time and money invested in the online game. Users generally find it very difficult to get their in-game items back. Reestablishing a hacked account that has been banned by game administrators can be equally as challenging.What can I do to minimize the risks?
As a general rule, users should always run up-to-date antivirus software with real-time protection such as Norton Antivirus, Norton Internet Security, Norton 360
or Symantec Endpoint Protection
. In addition, a firewall -- or better still, an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) -- will help to block download activities initiated by these types of malicious programs. Program controls such as those found in Symantec Endpoint Protection can also help to prevent programs such as these from executing in the first place.How can I find out more?
Advanced users can submit a sample to Threat Expert
to obtain a detailed report of the system and file-system changes caused by a threat.
Symantec Security Response encourages all users and administrators to adhere to the following basic security "best practices":