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PC Gaming Threats Jumped 66% Amid COVID-19 Lockdowns

Cyberattacks targeting PC and mobile games increased last year after players were in lockdown, Kaspersky researchers report.

The number of gamers hit with PC-specific gaming-related cyberattacks increased at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic but dropped in the first and second quarters of 2021, according to new research from Kaspersky.

Researchers investigated several types of security threats associated with gaming. The threat statistics come from Kaspersky Security Network, which processes anonymized cybersecurity data voluntarily provided by Kaspersky product users. Data shows PC game-related threats hit 2.48 million detections worldwide as lockdowns were introduced in the second quarter of 2020, a 66% increase from 1.48 million detections in the first quarter of 2020. The number of attacks and affected users sharply dropped to 636,904 attacks in the second quarter of 2021, researchers note.

"Researchers said the high volume of attacks over the past year may be connected to the rapid growth of gaming activities during the pandemic," they write in a release. 

The total number of users who encountered gaming-related malware and unwanted software from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021 was 303,827, with 69,244 files distributed under the guise of twenty-four most-played PC games. Data shows the top five PC games used as bait in attacks are Minecraft, The Sims 4, PUBG, Fortnite, and Grand Theft Auto V.

Mobile games show a different trend. The number of affected gamers grew by 185% at the beginning of the pandemic and declined just 10% by the second quarter of 2021, a sign that mobile devices are still more commonly targeted by cybercriminals. The top three mobile games most often used as bait were Minecraft, PUBG Mobile and Among Us.

Most of the statistics in the report were collected between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. Pandemic-related statistics cover the period of January 2020 through June 2021.

Read more on the research here.

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