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Akamai Security Research reveals “relentless” web application and credential stuffing attacks targeting gamers and gaming companies throughout 2020

Bengaluru, NFAPost: Akamai Technologies, Inc, the world’s most trusted solution for protecting and delivering digital experiences, released research shows that cyberattack traffic targeting the video game industry grew more than any other industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Akamai’s new State of the Internet / Security report, Gaming in a Pandemic, the video game industry suffered more than 240 million web application attacks in 2020, a 340% increase over 2019.

Mobile games incorporating in-app purchases are also subject to a consistent barrage of attacks, according to the Akamai report. Criminals are seeking any opportunity to exploit players who spend real money on virtual, in-game items like skins, character enhancements and additional levels.

Phishing kit

The report highlights a recent example in which bad actors used a phishing kit to steal player email addresses, passwords, login details, and geolocation information that they subsequently sold on criminal markets.

Commenting on the findings, Akamai security researcher and author of the State of the Internet / Security report Steve Ragan said criminals are relentless, and Akamai has the data to show it.

“We’re observing a remarkable persistence in video game industry defenses being tested on a daily – and often hourly – basis by criminals probing for vulnerabilities through which to breach servers and expose information. We’re also seeing numerous group chats forming on popular social networks that are dedicated to sharing attack techniques and best practices,” said Steve Ragan.

Game server

SQL injection (SQLi), which targets player login credentials and personal information, was the top web application attack vector in 2020, representing 59% of all attacks Akamai observed against the gaming industry.

That was followed by local file inclusion (LFI) attacks at 24%, which target sensitive details within applications and services that can further compromise game servers and accounts. Cross-site scripting (XSS) and remote file inclusion (RFI) attacks accounted for 8% and 7% of observed attacks, respectively.

The video game industry suffered nearly 11 billion credential stuffing attacks in 2020, marking a 224% increase over the previous year. The attacks were steady and large, taking place at a rate of millions per day, with two days seeing spikes of more than 100 million.

Illicit website

Second only to phishing in popularity of account takeover attacks, credential stuffing attacks were so common in 2020 that bulk lists of stolen usernames and passwords were available for as little as $5 on illicit websites.

Steve Ragan said recycling and using simple passwords make credential stuffing such a constant problem and effective tool for criminals.

“A successful attack against one account can compromise any other account where the same username and password combination is being used. Using tools like password managers and opting into multi-factor authentication wherever possible can help eliminate recycling and make it far more difficult for bad actors to execute successful attacks,” said Steve Ragan.

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