Cybersecurity: 5 reasons not to download pirated games

Revenue from the global video game market is expected to grow nearly 11% this year to nearly $209 billion. But when you see such growth, revenue, and users concentrated in one place, there are usually people looking to take advantage of it. This is where piracy comes in. Just like with movies, TV shows, music, and other digital content, there's a thriving market for video game titles that have been "cracked" so everyone can enjoy them for free. Piracy is rampant across all platforms, be it PC games, mobile devices, or consoles. It's hard to say for sure if the piracy actually has an impact on the global trade in legitimate gaming software. However, what is clear is that downloading and running a pirated copy can expose you to multiple risks from penalty fines to dangerous malware.

What are pirated games?

There is little data on the size of the pirated game market. But we know how important the legitimate market is. Mobile is expected to dominate in the coming years. It is estimated to generate $180 billion in 2021, more than half (52%) of the global total, suggesting that piracy rates there are relatively high. In its simplest form, pirated games are those that have been "cracked" by circumventing digital rights management (DRM), a technology designed to protect copyrighted content. By doing so, they allow users to access and play titles without paying their developers or distributors. Often the most popular titles are given such treatment as soon as they are available for sale, but sometimes pirates obtain and distribute free copies before the official release date.

Benoit Grunemwald , Cyber Security Expert at ESET France explains 5 reasons to stay away from pirated games.

1. Malware

Threat actors use a popular game and the lure of free content to trick users into downloading malware. They can do this by sharing posts on social media, sending phishing emails, or even by optimizing the search engines of their websites or P2P torrents. Often, malware has been designed to bypass traditional security filters or to force the user to completely disable their anti-malware software. Also, they usually request excessive permissions to run. Malware can also be hidden in mods, additional files needed to continue playing.

Spread primarily through pirated games, this malware has stolen more than one million unique email addresses and 26 million login credentials. Other types of malware commonly distributed by pirated games are as follows. Cryptomining malware, which can crash the victim's device and drive up energy bills. Keyloggers and information thieves designed to harvest all kinds of personal information from machines and devices. Ransomware, which blocks your access to your machine and demands payment.

2. Adware

Adware can be a nuisance for PC and mobile phone users. Pop-ups and new browser windows flood the victim with a torrent of videos and static advertisements, making normal use of the device or PC increasingly difficult. In 2020, 21 game apps were kicked out of the Google Play store for containing intrusive adware.

3. The game does not work as expected

Pirated games might seem like a great way to get access to sought-after titles for free. But the reality is often quite different. The game may never work properly on your PC, console or device. There may be bugs or operating issues that seriously affect its performance. It may be incomplete, or simply stop working after some time, if its developers perform continuous checks of software registration. In other situations, there may be compatibility issues. For example, if users try to add pirated software to their Steam library, they will be identified as non-Steam games and will not be able to access all features of the platform.

4. A ban on the gaming platform

It is also possible that the legitimate developer may be able to track pirated software on specific devices and PCs and establish a partial or permanent blacklist of associated accounts. This is a particular risk for game console platforms like Xbox, where vendors have been extremely proactive in this area in the past.

5. You attract law enforcement

Finally, it is important to remember that the use of pirated game content is illegal. You risk fines or even jail time if the use of pirated software can be traced.

Top Tips for Avoiding Gambling Risks

The most obvious choice is to avoid torrent sites and always buy video games from official stores. This will reduce the risk of malware and adware, bad gaming experiences, and potential legal issues. Here are more essential tips for staying safe. First, always run anti-malware software from a reputable vendor on all PCs and devices. Never turn it off. Next, check the recommended security settings on all gaming platforms you use, such as Steam, Twitch, and Discord. Finally, never click on links in unsolicited emails. Always visit the developer's legitimate website or relevant marketplace, like Apple App Store or Google Play.

Source : case