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Chinese Cybercrime Group Ripping Off Developers in the Gaming Industry

Reports have indicated that a notorious Chinese cybercrime group, widely known as “Advanced Persistent Threat 41” (APT41), is targeting the big players in the gaming industry.

The cybercrime group have been linked with a number of state-backed espionage and data theft cyber attacks. And prominent tech franchises, like Asus, CClearner and NetSarang among others, have fallen victim over the past few years. In recent times, the group’s searchlight has been beaming down on the gaming industry – an industry that boasts of unlimited financial resources, with user databases worth billions of dollars.

APT41 emerged seven years ago, in 2012, and became a global cybercrime group two years later, in 2014. The group has evolved over the years, and at some point, they’ve adopted several names, notably Barium and Winnti..

In a recent research by FireEye cybersecurity company, APT41 is described as a unique cybercrime group, with interest in espionage and internet fraud. According to the report, the group exploits non-public malwares, originally reserved for spy campaigns, to amass wealth for themselves.

APT41 and the gaming industry: The recent wave of attacks on game developers & publishers

Up until 2015, APT41 was mainly known for data theft across the several industries.Today, their focus has shifted to the gaming industry; with a wave of attacks aimed at reaping off video game publishers and developers.

Furthermore, FireEye’s report suggests that the cybercrime group adopts a number of tactics, ranging from bootkits to spear-phising. These are used to gain access to games’ development hubs, before deploying malwares to gain further control. And APT41 leverages this vulnerability to generate virtual currency worth millions. Similarly, ransomwares could be deployed to extort money from game developers and end users.

APT41: Is the cybercrime group untouchable?

As gathered from FireEye’s report; despite the allegations against APT41, their alleged ties with the Chinese government shields them from prosecution in China or elsewhere. Hence, they are able to perpetrate their crimes with reckless abandon, within and beyond the shores of China.

What do you think?


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