Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

Malware has a terrible new way to get to your computer

You’ve heard of malware spreading through spammy emails and mysterious links on strange websites. But now there’s a new avenue of attack for bad actors to take — and it’s via Minecraft. Yes, you read it correctly. The open-world building game loved by seven-year-olds around the globe is quickly becoming a favorite method for spreading malware.

As reported by Bleeping Computer, Kaspersky Labs researched the phenomena from July 2021 until July 2022, and it found that in-game malware accounted for a significant amount of the malware that was spread in that time. Although there was a 30% drop in malware attacks in that year when compared to 2020, the amount of gaming-related malware actually increased. Minecraft on PC was the preferred vector.

A villager looks at a sunset.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

In-game economies have grown in popularity as a way for developers to make money, with everything from new skins to enhanced weapons and tools available. Minecraft has an entire ecosystem of user-made goodies and mods available for download, and there are many off-platform sites where users can find free stuff to use in-game. Many kids cannot resist the lure of free skins and loot boxes for download, and this is where the malware hides.

Before we all dump our beloved Minecraft and jump over to Roblox, be warned that many other games are also platforms used to spread malware, according to Kaspersky. FIFA was the second-most used game after Minecraft, with 11% of in-game malware. Roblox, Far Cry, and the Call of Duty franchise also had significant amounts of malware attached to off-platform mods and downloads.

Computer games weren’t the only targets for malware. Mobile games had threats too. Grand Theft Auto, PUBG Mobile, and Roblox were all compromised, but once again, Minecraft led the pack with 40% of the mobile gaming malware threats. Minecraft remains a favorite for threat actors precisely because it is one of the most popular games out there.

Most of the malware Kaspersky found were downloaders, accounting for nearly 89% of all the malware. Adware, Trojans, and exploits made up a smaller share. Most of the downloaders were info-stealers and cryptocurrency miners.

You can avoid these pitfalls by only downloading mods and skins from trusted in-game stores. Downloads from off-platform websites and forums can introduce nasty malware to your device, which you may not realize is there until it’s too late. Also, if any developer tells you to turn off antivirus protection to make their mod work, run fast.

More importantly, keep a good eye on your child when they’re playing Minecraft or Roblox. You just never know when a cool new world with a real fire-breathing T-Rex is going to tempt them into downloading something onto your computer.

Editors' Recommendations

Nathan Drescher
Nathan Drescher is a freelance journalist and writer from Ottawa, Canada. He's been writing about technology from around the…
Microsoft has a new way to keep ChatGPT ethical, but will it work?
Bing Chat shown on a laptop.

Microsoft caught a lot of flak when it shut down its artificial intelligence (AI) Ethics & Society team in March 2023. It wasn’t a good look given the near-simultaneous scandals engulfing AI, but the company has just laid out how it intends to keep its future efforts responsible and in check going forward.

In a post on Microsoft’s On the Issues blog, Natasha Crampton -- the Redmond firm’s Chief Responsible AI Officer -- explained that the ethics team was disbanded because “A single team or a single discipline tasked with responsible or ethical AI was not going to meet our objectives.”

Read more
Is macOS more secure than Windows? This malware report has the answer
A person using a laptop with a set of code seen on the display.

It’s a long-held belief that Macs are less at risk of malware and viruses than Windows PCs, but how true is that? Well, a new report has shed some light on the situation -- and the results might surprise you.

According to threat research firm Elastic Security Labs, roughly 39% of all malware infections happen on Windows PCs. In good news for Apple fans, only 6% of breaches occurred on macOS, making Mac systems far less vulnerable than their Windows counterparts.

Read more
This might be why The Last of Us has terrible stuttering on PC
Joel looks at Ellie in The Last of Us Part 2.

The Last of Us on PC has launched in a dire state. Although I haven't experienced as many issues as some players are reporting, the consensus is clear: the game is buggy, poorly optimized, and underbaked. It's currently sitting with a Mostly Negative review status on Steam, which is typically reserved for the most broken games, like Battlefield 2042. 

Consider yourself warned if you want to jump into Joel and Ellie's story on PC, especially if you just finished off the excellent HBO series. For players who already have the game, there's a particular issue you should be aware of that relates to Nvidia's Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) and AMD's FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), as well as demands on your system that go far beyond the recommended specs.
A possible source of stutter

Read more