Bad Behavior

Attention gamers: are the games you play putting you in harm's way? If you're one of the 11 million active users of World of Warcraft, or you know someone who is, you'll want to pay close attention to the facts, below, as we highlight a piece of malware that preys on the game's players.

Understanding the Threat

This month's pick is a Trojan, detected by Ad-Aware as Win32.TrojanPWS.WOW, that focuses mainly on stealing login information for World of Warcraft gamers by monitoring keystrokes and sending them to a remote host.

World of Warcraft is one of the most popular Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs), so there's little wonder why thieves have decided to exploit this particular game, as well as online gaming sites in general.

The Bad Behavior

Win32.TrojanPWS.WOW is used by malware authors to harvest victims' passwords and account information while connecting to World of Warcraft servers. It also attempts to shutdown security-related software on a user's machine. The harvested data is then sent to a remote malicious server, to be further exploited by cyber thieves.

How might you get infected? The Trojan spreads itself through the more traditional routes of e-mail and peer-to-peer file sharing but has also been seen infecting users through drive-by downloads from pop-up advertisements on gaming sites, according to

Winning Strategies

Keep reading, below, to brush up on the security essentials you need to know to stay safe from Win32.TrojanPWS.WOW - and the other threats that abound in online games and virtual worlds.

  1. Play only on legitimate and trustworthy game servers. Cutting corners by using free games provided by rogue servers can result in low game quality, support problems, and a higher prevalence of theft and fraud.
  2. Use complicated, “non-dictionary” passwords. Compose passwords that are at least 10 characters long, and are made up of a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.
  3. Use common sense when you're approached for information or given a suspect call to action. Exercise caution with e-mail and in-game messages, and never give out your account information.
  4. Use real-time anti-malware protection and scan your hard drive frequently. Stay tuned for Ad-Aware Game Edition, which will provide real-time anti-virus and anti-spyware protection, designed specifically with gamers in mind!
  5. Update the definitions file of all security software constantly. This will ensure the threat database is up-to-date and that the program is prepared to catch the latest threats as they are placed into detection.
  6. Use Hosts file protection to help avoid redirections to malicious servers.
  7. Keep your operating system updated with the latest security patches, along with any other potentially high-target third party software, like Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  8. Install and run applications that support rootkit protection. Many computer users like to run a variety of different scanners to help find infections. Still, use caution when choosing new programs in order to make sure to use reliable, respected security software
  9. Keep your main web browser updated with the latest patches. Browser vulnerabilities may be used by criminals on specific gaming sites and forums to download MMORPG malware.
Learn more about PlayWithPictures
Just how big is the online gaming industry? One Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game alone, World of Warcraft, has over 11 million active users. That's more users than the entire population of Sweden - the home of Lavasoft's headquarters.

Last month, we told you about the security highlights of the new Google Chrome browser. This month, we have the scoop on a Lavasoft partnership with Google that will give you the option to add an extra layer of protection to your online experience. Read more.
“Online gaming has become a massive industry over the last decade. With so many users and so much money involved, malware writers have the perfect opportunity to cash in on online games and virtual worlds.”

- Albin Bodahl, malware analyst at Lavasoft Malware Labs
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