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August 15, 2006

Argh, mateys! There’s pirate gold in these games!

Posted by David Hunter at 7:42 PM ET.

No, it’s not “Talk Like a Pirate Day.” I’m just getting into the spirit of Microsoft warns game developers of security risk:

All too familiar with hackers looking to exploit security flaws in its software, Microsoft Corp. warned video game developers on Monday that their PC games are now a target for criminals.

Popular massively multiplayer online games, such as “World of Warcraft,” have created a market for valuable game identities loaded with gold or other hard-earned forms of in-game currency that can be used to buy new weapons, magic spells or other trappings to advance within the game.

Using malware or software designed to infiltrate a computer system, hackers steal account information for users of MMO games and then sell off virtual gold, weapons and other items for real money.

“Those of you who are working on massively multiplayer online games, organized crime is already looking at you,” said Dave Weinstein, a Microsoft security development engineer at the company’s Gamefest video game development conference.

It’s no joke, of course. The increasing real world value of virtual world artifacts has produced a number of oddities from illicit “gold farming” to real money markets sanctioned by the game operators, so it’s no surprise that crooks would get interested.

Filed under Microsoft, PC Games, Security

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