With an audience in the many millions and revenues in the many billions, games are a popular target for bad actors. As one of the largest games around, Minecraft is chief among them. Even though it has been around for years, Minecraft still has a huge global audience.
That makes it a target for malware.
Security outfit Kaspersky found that Minecraft was targeted in a full quarter of all game-related malware threats over the past year.
Between July 2021 and July 2022, Minecraft was used for around a quarter (25%) of malicious files it detected. They found 23,239 incidents over that time.
The next targets were FIFA, Roblox, Far Cry and Call of Duty. All huge games with millions of players.
It’s important to note that the main threat isn’t from the games themselves. It’s from third-party addons.
Cheats, trainers, and mods provide a vector into a game and onto your computer. Cheats are a particular problem, making up the vast majority of malware sources.
According to Kaspersky:
"Over the years, the gaming industry has grown more and more, and we expect to see new ways of abusing users next year, e.g., by exploiting the theme of esports, which are now gaining popularity around the world. That is why it is so important to stay protected, so you do not lose your money, credentials, or gaming account, which you have built over the years."
The easy way to avoid the majority of game-related malware is to not use third-party programs such as cheats. If you do want to use them, use reliable sources and always check for feedback on a particular cheat or program before using it.
Finally, always, always scan the files with your antivirus and malware scanner before allowing it to open.
While scanning won’t protect you from every form of malware, it’s a defense against some of it.