April 21, 2013 No Comments-
We’ve previously talked about how dangerous downloading pirated files from the internet can be – see this article from a few weeks ago. What we didn’t mention was that computer games are by far the most dangerous type of pirated file, with an incredible (and terrifying) 90% of illegally downloaded video games containing malware. Wow.
This is probably the highest infection rate for any type of file or website on the internet. Why? Computer games are one of the easiest places to successfully hide malicious code, and the target audience is younger members of the family.
Why are pirated computer games so virus-prone?
Because pirated video games are usually downloaded from suspicious websites, there’s no regulation or monitoring of which files have been infected and which ones are untouched.
And because computer games are made up of executable files (software that you install or run on your computer, rather than a video, which you simply watch), they’re the perfect place for malware to hide before it installs itself.
The 90% infection rate is actually related to “game hacks”, rather than the games themselves, although the two are co-dependent. The hacks (also known as ‘fixes”) are small pieces of code that allow pirated computer games to run on any computer, bypassing the game’s built-in security protocols.
Hacks are a necessity if you want to play a modern pirated game, and therefore usually come bundle with the majority of pirate downloads.
You can also download hacks separately, however. Some people download a fix to play games they have already bought, simply because they have lost the install disk or want to use the game on more than one computer.
A familiar family problem
This statistic is a real concern for family computers, where an uninformed member of the family could download a pirated game thinking that they’re getting a game for no cost.
In reality, that move could prove very expensive – costing their family members’ their usernames, passwords and online banking details.
Our advice is to avoid downloading game hacks – and pirated games – in the first place. There was a time in the 1990s when malware was less prevalent on these files, but that has clearly passed.
We also recommend ensuring that the rest of your family are aware of the dangers of downloading pirated games, and that you keep an up-to-date antivirus software installed on your computer.
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