One Billion At Risk As Cyber Criminals Target Virtual Worlds

A report compiled by the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), shed light on the increasing perils of virtual world fraud which the agency said could threaten 1 billion people worldwide.

The EU agency carried out a survey using data from 1,500 respondents and found out that 30 percent have lost valuable "virtual" items due to online fraud, with only a quarter recovering their stolen items.

In the report, security firm Kaspersky Labs indicated that over the last year, more than 30,000 malicious applications have been targeting accounts and property in online virtual worlds, social networks and games (like World of Warcraft, Facebook or Second Life); this represents a 145 percent annual growth and is a lucrative market worth around £1.25 billion.

The fact that virtual worlds can be accessed from anywhere in the world, combined with lax international regulations means that it is very difficult to recover stolen virtual property, especially if the crime was committed by someone thousands of miles away.

And with more than one billion registered accounts in online worlds - Facebook has more than 125 million users, World of Warcraft, more than 10 million paying subscribers, Second life has just over 15 million accounts - the report says that Avatars, your virtual representation, can give out more information that you would thought annd ENISA urged users to be extra careful about their personal data online.

Stronger legal framework, improved authentication method, better protection against bots and distributed denial of service attacks could eventually reduce the risks of online criminal activities.

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