Hackers are targeting ‘Call of Duty’ cheaters with malware-laden add-ons

Call of Duty: Warzone has gathered 50 million players.
Image: Activision

There’s nothing worse than logging in to play a game of “Call of Duty: Warzone” and getting sniped from halfway across the map by someone using software to cheat. Sure, it might be easy to call someone a hacker every time you get taken down. However, cheaters are a serious issue for the game—especially in recent years.

While Activision hasn’t done much to stop these cheaters, it appears that some frustrated hackers are taking things into their own hands. According to a recent report from the publisher, chatter on the dark web and several gaming forums has revealed that hackers are rolling out fake cheats for the popular title that are laden with malware.

The approach is highly targeted since only players trying to cheat would be interested in downloading the software. Moreover, due to the nature of in-game “cheats,” players who download them are making themselves more vulnerable to the malware.

Karma is Real

As the saying goes, cheaters never win. Perhaps that’s what the hackers behind these attacks set out to prove. To be clear, no one is encouraging people to target “Call of Duty” cheaters with malware. At the same time, those who don’t cheat at the game probably aren’t mad to hear that it is happening.

According to Activision’s report, hackers are reportedly disguising a “dropper” as a program that offers in-game advantages like unlimited ammunition, extra speed, or a “1hit1kill” feature. For those who aren’t familiar, a dropper is a program that can be used to install other forms of malware later on. In other words, it gives hackers access to a device so they can eventually steal information or wreak havoc on files.

Activision says that the fake cheat tool has already been advertised on both popular cheating forums and YouTube. It didn’t specify which forums it was posted on. However, comments on those posts make it seem like some players have already downloaded and tried to use the software.

Opening the Door

In a sense, targeting cheaters with fake cheat tools that are actually malware in disguise is a genius strategy. That’s true because the attack exclusively targets those with intentions of cheating. However, it is also extremely effective because most cheat tools, including ones that offer a legitimate advantage, require users to disable certain security features.

During the installation process, most software of this type asks users to disable or uninstall their antivirus software and firewalls. It goes without saying that this is a bad idea. In this case, it makes it much easier for hackers to gain access to the computer.

In its report, Activision notes, “It is common practice when configuring a cheat program to run it with the highest system privileges. Guides for cheats will typically ask users to disable or uninstall antivirus software and host firewalls, disable kernel code signing, etc.”

Again, news of hackers rolling out new malware is never good. In this case, however, it is at least a bit entertaining. To stay safe, users can do what they should be doing anyway and steer clear of any cheat tools while enjoying their favorite games.


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