In a nutshell: In what could be considered karmic justice, Activision has revealed that a piece of cheat software for Call of Duty: Warzone contained hidden malware designed to take control of victims’ computers.
As reported by Vice, security researchers at Activision found that a Warzone cheat advertised on popular cheating forums contained more than met the eye. It surreptitiously installed a dropper on a device, which allowed other types of malware to be downloaded onto a computer.
“The dropper examined in this report, ‘Cod Dropper v0.1,’ can be customized to install other, more destructive, malware onto the targets’ machines,” the report reads.
One of the malware campaign’s goals was installing miners on victims’ PCs, using gamers’ graphics cards to mine crypto without their knowledge.
Cheating—not worth it
Activision notes that the procedures required for “genuine” cheats to work also allow most malware tools to execute, such as bypassing system protections and escalating privileges. Many cheats recommend users disable their anti-virus software to ensure compatibility with a system, allowing hidden malware to infect PCs without the cheaters being alerted.
“While this method is rather simplistic, it is ultimately a social engineering technique that leverages the willingness of its target (players that want to cheat) to voluntarily lower their security protections and ignore warnings about running potentially malicious software,” writes the publisher’s researchers.
Warzone boasted 75 million players back in August 2020. While that figure is a lot lower these days, cheating remains a big problem. Activision has banned 300,000 people worldwide since launch, 60,000 of whom felt the banhammer on a single day, so don’t cheat.