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Steam Stealers target gamers

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Gaming is not just a good business for developers and manufacturers, but is also quite viable for cybercriminals. Steam Stealer malware is constantly evolving and its goal is to steal online gaming credentials and sell them on the black market.

In an industry worth over an estimated hundred billion US dollars, gaming is not just big business for developers and manufacturers, but for cybercriminals too. Steam Stealer is a constantly evolving breed of malware that is responsible for hijacking the user accounts of the popular gaming platform, Steam. The malware’s goal is to steal online gaming items and user account credentials, and then resell them on the black market. It is distributed to cybercriminals under a malware-as-a-service business model with an extremely low entry price of up to $30 USD.

Steam is one of the most popular entertainment multi-OS distribution platforms. Owned by Valve, it has over 100 million registered users and several thousand games available for download worldwide. Its popularity makes it a large and attractive target for fraudster groups, who can sell Steam user credentials for $15 USD on the black market. According to recently published official Steam data, 77,000 Steam accounts are hijacked and pillaged every month.

According to Kaspersky Lab researcher, Santiago Pontiroli, and his independent research colleague Bart P., a new breed of malware known as Steam Stealer is the prime suspect in the pilfering of numerous user accounts from Valve’s flagship platform. The duo believes the malware was originally developed by Russian-speaking cybercriminals; they have found many language traces in several underground malware forums to suggest this.

Steam Stealer works in a malware-as-a-service business model: it is available for sale in different versions, with distinct features, free upgrades, user manuals, custom advice for distribution, and more. When it comes to these types of malicious campaigns the usual starting price for “solutions” is in the range of $500 USD. However, Steam Stealers have a ludicrously low price, being commonly sold for no more than $30 USD. This makes the malware highly attractive for ‘wannabe’ cybercriminals all around the world.

The propagation of Steam Stealers is mainly, but not solely, done either via fake cloned websites distributing the malware, or through a social engineering approach, where the victim is targeted with direct messages.

Once the malware is in the user’s system it steals the entire set of Steam configuration files. Once this is done it locates the specific Steam KeyValue file that contains user credentials, as well as the information that maintains a user’s session. When cybercriminals have obtained this information, they can control the user’s account.

Stealing gamer accounts was once a resource-light way for script kiddies to make a quick profit, by selling them on underground forums. Now however, criminals have realised the true market value of these accounts. The opportunities now lie in stealing and selling user gaming items that may be worth thousands of dollars. Organised cybercriminals simply don’t want to leave that money on the table.

Kaspersky Lab experts have discovered nearly 1200 samples of different Steam Stealers that have been attacking tens of thousands of users around the world, especially in Russia and other Eastern European countries, where Steam’s platform is extremely popular.

“The gaming community has become a highly desirable target for cybercriminals. There has been a clear evolution in the techniques used for infection and propagation, as well as the growing complexity of the malware itself, which has led to an increase in this type of activity. With gaming consoles adding more powerful components and the Internet of Things on our doorstep, this scenario looks like one that will continue to play out and become more complex. At Kaspersky Lab, we hope that our research will develop into an ongoing investigation, bringing a much-needed balance to the gaming ecosystem. Security should not be something developers think about afterwards but at an early stage of the game development process. We believe that cross-industry cooperation can help to improve this situation,” comments Santiago Pontiroli, Global Research & Analysis Team, Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky Lab detects Steam Stealers trojan groups as:  Trojan.Downloader.Msil.Steamilik; Trojan.Msil.Steamilik; Trojan-psw.Msil.Steam amongst others. Targets of these trojans are largely spread around the globe with Russia, the US, Europe (France and Germany), India and Brazil, leading the way.

To stay safe, users need an up-to-date security solution so they can enjoy their favourite games without the fear of being exploited. Most security products have a “gaming mode”, such as the one in Kaspersky Internet Security, so that users can enjoy their games without getting any notifications until the end of their session. In a bid to help its own users stay safe, Steam also offers several security measures to protect accounts and increase the difficulty for hijacking mechanisms.

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SA consumers buy 3.2m smartphones in Q1

Smartphone sales in South Africa grew by 12.4% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018, reaching around 3.2 million units for the period.

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However, the value of the smartphone segment increased by 22.8% as sales of entry-level devices to low- and mid-income consumers continued to drive the market, according to point of sale data from market research firm, GfK South Africa.

GfK South Africa’s data reveals that telecommunications retail enjoyed a strong start to the year, with revenue growing 22.4% year-on-year. The growing popularity of phablets and higher unit prices (as a result of a weaker rand) helped to drive this increase in revenue, against a backdrop of low or negative growth in many segments of the consumer technology market.

“The mobile device market showed good growth in the quarter, despite rising prices during the period under review,” says Norman Muzhona, Solutions Specialist for Telecommunications at GfK South Africa. “In addition to the exchange rate, the introduction of popular, new mid-tier devices by several leading vendors helped to drive higher retail revenues in the telecoms market.”

Information technology retail revenues for the quarter contracted 4.8% compared to 2017, largely because of decreasing monitor prices and a 38.9% decline in tablet revenues. However, desktop computer revenues grew 39% and mobile computing revenues grew 6.5% year-on-year, thanks to higher prices and increased sales of higher-end products.

Says Berno Mare, Solutions Specialist for IT, Office Equipment and Value Added Services: “Retailers introduced new computing devices priced in the R3000 band during the quarter and enjoyed surprisingly strong demand for these entry-level units.

“Telcos enjoyed robust growth in mobile computing retail sales, thanks to credit deals, subsidised contracts and attractive data offers. However, South African consumers are heavily indebted, which may dampen growth for the rest of the year.”

With consumers rapidly migrating to smartphones, sales of traditional mobile phones continued to decline, down 1.6% year-on-year to around 2 million for the quarter. However, the exchange rate and the introduction of higher-priced brands helped to drive a 8.9% year-on-year revenue increase in mobile phone revenues during the period under review.

This follows the 21% drop in mobile phone unit sales in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. “Operators continue to lead the transition from feature phones to smartphones as they pursue higher data revenues,” says Muzhona. “The entry-level market for smartphones is fiercely competitive, and the minimum specs of lower cost smartphones is improving all the time.”

GfK South Africa expects the migration from mobile phones to smartphones to accelerate in 2018. However, it remains to be seen if the introduction of 4G-enabled, Voice-over-LTE-ready feature phones will have any impact on the South African mobile phone market.

Sectors of the consumer electronic market that showed strong growth for the first quarter of 2018 include loudspeakers—revenues up 21.6% year-on-year, thanks to demand of Bluetooth-enabled product—and ultrahigh definition (UHD) panel TVs—where revenues grew 33%, thanks to the growing affordability of the technology. UHD unit shipments were up 76%, while the average selling price of the products fell 24%.

Other market highlights for the first quarter of 2018 include:

  • Photo category revenues were up 8.1% year-on-year.
  • Small domestic appliance revenues grew 8%, following a 10.3% decline in Q1 2016 over Q1 2015. Hot air fryers sold well, as did kettles and toasters.
  • Major domestic appliances showed small year-on-year growth over Q1 2016, despite a decline in average selling price in many sub-categories of this market. Cooling products continued to make the highest contribution to growth in this segment.
  • Office Equipment revenues declined 18% year-on-year, led downwards by lower printer and cartridge sales volumes.
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What kids want online

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Kaspersky Lab’s latest report on the online activities of children – based on statistics received from its solutions and modules with child protection features – highlights children’s online activities and the importance of protecting them when online. For example, video content globally, comprised 17% of searches over the last months. Although many videos watched as a result of these searches may be harmless, it is still possible for children to accidentally end up watching videos that contain inappropriate content.

The report shows anonymised statistics from Kaspersky Lab’s flagship consumer solutions for Windows PCs and Macs that have the Parental Control module switched on and from Kaspersky Safe Kids, a standalone service for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices.

In South Africa, communication sites (such as social media, messengers, or emails) were the most popular pages visited by computers with parental controls switched on – with users in South Africa visiting these sites in 69% of cases over the previous 12 months. Software, audio, and video accounted for 17% of searches. Websites with this content have become significantly more popular since last year, when it was only the fifth most popular category globally at 6%. The top four is rounded off with electronic commerce (4.2%) and alcohol, tobacco, and websites about narcotics (3.9%), which is a new addition compared to this time last year.

The report presents search results on the ten most-popular languages* for the last 6 months. The data shows that the video & audio category – including requests related to any video content, streaming services, video bloggers, series and movies – are the most regularly ‘googled’ by children (17% of the total requests). The second and third places go to translation (14%) and communication (10%) websites respectively. Interestingly, games websites sit in fourth place, generating only 9% of the total search requests.

We can also see a clear language difference for search requests: for example, video and music websites are typically searched for in English, which can be explained by the fact that the majority of movies, TV series and musical groups have English names. Spanish-speaking kids carry out more requests for translation sites, while communication services are mostly searched for in Russian.

More than any other nationality, Chinese-speaking children look for education services, while French-speaking kids are more interested in sport and games websites. In turn, German-speaking requests dominate in the “shopping” category. The leading number of search requests for porn are in Arabic, and for anime are in Japanese.

“Kids in different countries have different interests and online behaviors, but what links them all is their need to be protected online from potentially harmful content. Children looking for animated content could accidentally open a porn video. Or they could start searching for innocent videos and unintentionally end up on websites containing violent content, both of which could have a long-term impact on their impressionable and vulnerable minds,” says Anna Larkina, Web-content Analysis Expert at Kaspersky Lab.

As well as analysing searches, the report also looks into which websites children visit or attempt to visit that contain potentially harmful content which falls under one of the 14 preset categories** for the last 12 months.

The mobile trend is again highlighted in the figures for computer games, which are now in fifth place locally on the list at 3%. As kids continue to show a preference for mobile games rather than computer games, this category will only continue to decrease in popularity on computers over the coming months and years.cleardot.gif

“No matter what they are doing online, it is important for parents not to leave their children’s digital activities unattended, because there’s a big difference between care and obtrusiveness. While it is important to trust your children and educate them about how to behave safely online, even your good advice cannot protect them from something unexpectedly showing up on the screen. That’s why advanced security solutions are key to ensuring children have positive online experiences, rather than harmful ones,” adds Anna Larkina.

The Kaspersky Total Security and Kaspersky Internet Security consumer solutions include a Parental Control module to help adults protect their children against online threats and block sites or apps containing inappropriate content. In turn, the Kaspersky Safe Kids solution allows parents to monitor what their children do, see or search for online across all devices, including mobile devices, and offers useful advice on how to help children behave safely online.

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