Sunday, October 08, 2006

Virtual Viruses in Montreal?

Just before going to Montreal and the Virus Bulletin Conference I saw the past weeks several trojans designed to target online computer games: Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, such as World of Warcraft, EverQuest, Lineage, and Second Life. Now, this might sound pretty harmless to some of you. It sounds like kids using trojans to steal somebody's game progress, right? Wrong.
MMORPGs are big commercial operations with many millions of subscribers. With seven million subscribers paying monthly for their accounts, World of Warcraft's Blizzard Entertainment must have hundreds of millions in revenue per year. And there's lots of money involved in secondary markets. There are loads of people playing these games to create virtual stuff to sell at auction. But why make virtual stuff when you can steal it? The target of the trojans is to gain access to thousands of accounts to steal the gold, weapons, and spells those accounts possess. Then the gold, weapons, and spells are transferred to other accounts and are sold in online markets - For real-world cash.
At least Montreal is a normal city with real people, a real conference and real malware. I'm looking forward to it because it's not virtual.