Online Game Malware Takes Off in June

By Matthew Hines  |  Posted 2008-07-01 Print this article Print

How's this for instant gratification? Fortinet released its June malware activity report this morning while most people here in the United States were winding down in preparation for the impending Independence Day and indulging in light beer bubble bath fantasies and cheeseburger dreams.

(FTR make mine a Sammy Light and steak sandwich, please.)

Anyhow, just as and others have recently pointed to the growing use of Chinese infrastructure and online game-themed attacks for the delivery of growing volumes of malware, Fortinet's results highlight similar trends. The company has also noticed an increasing amount of malicious activity emanating from Turkey and the United States, in particular around the use of attacks meant to target online video games and players thereof.

Overall, Fortinet reports that between May 21 and June 20 its threat sensors saw more examples of the long-running W32/Netsky mass-mailing worm virus than any other malware variant in the world, accounting for just over 9 percent of all such attacks it monitored, a good deal more than any other threats out there.

In a nod to the growing ubiquity of the game-based attacks, Fortinet charted a new variant of the W32/OnlineGames Trojan as the second most popular piece of malware code in the world at roughly 7.5 percent of all threats, with separate iteration of the attack coming in at No. 4. When parceled together, the two OnlineGames family members accounted for close to 13 percent of all the malware code the company listed.

Here's Fortinet's entire June Top 10 variant list:

Rank - Malware Variant

1 W32/Netsky!similar

2 W32/OnlineGames!tr

3 W32/Virut.A

4 W32/OnLineGames.fam!tr.pws

5 HTML/Iframe_CID!exploit

6 W32/Agent.LPV!tr

7 Adware/Vapsup

8 HTML/Iframe.DN!tr.dldr

9 W32/MyTob.FR@mm

10 W32/Grew.A!worm

Other than the rise of the OnlineGames variants and the falloff in the use of the Vapsup adware/fake anti-virus attack, Fortinet highlighted the fact that the Virup.A Windows backdoor threat has remained in its Top 5 for the last five months consecutively. For its part, the Grew.A Windows worm inched its way back into the Top 10 and has remained in the leading 15 attack variants for the last 10 months in a row.

The Top 5 malware variant families retained a relatively similar list of familiar faces, but with newcomer OnlineGames showing its sizeable muscle:

Rank - Malware Family

1 OnlineGames 2 Netsky 3 MyTob 4 Virut 5 Grew

Overall, Fortinet said OnlineGames is hammering networks in China, Taiwan and Turkey, with a growing presence in the United States as well.

"With the online gaming market thriving with consumers, malicious activity will very likely continue for some time in this emerging sector as it forms a viable target," Fortinet researchers said.

I guess that means people should stick to good old Grand Theft Auto IV instead. Or maybe just go outside and enjoy some warm summer weather (where applicable).

Either way, enjoy.

Matt Hines has been following the IT industry for over a decade as a reporter and blogger, and has been specifically focused on the security space since 2003, including a previous stint writing for eWEEK and contributing to the Security Watch blog. Hines is currently employed as marketing communications manager at Core Security Technologies, a Boston-based maker of security testing software. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Core Security, and neither the company, nor its products and services will be actively discussed in the blog. Please send news, research or tips to |

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