Archive for May, 2006

Character Assassination

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

Snipers and assassination usually go with each other hand in hand. But what about character assassination?

According to Wikipedia, character assassination in practice usually consists of spreading rumors and deliberate misinformation of topics relating to one’s morals, integrity, and reputation.

But today a far more serious threat has emerged with character assassination than the simple spreading of rumors or playing Delta Force: Black Hawk Down, and taking down the enemy.

According to reports, games like Guild Wars, Auto Assault, City Of Heroes and Lineage, are under threat of character assassination in a unique way that involves game identity theft.

Lately numerous “phishing” trojans have been used in China to steal MMORPG player’s identities in order to sell off their virtual character’s prized possessions and make cold, hard cash.

Weapons and artifacts are transferred to the thief’s account, which then goes on to sell the valuable items, some of which fetch $900 or more.

In recent events NCsoft Corp, the publisher of popular online games like Guild Wars, City of Heroes and Lineage announced its intention to appeal against the court verdict that found them responsible for the theft of several players’ personal information.

Even if it was a simple and honest mistake on the company’s part, we have to ask ourselves how safe is it to participate in MMORPGs?

I dug a bit deeper and discovered that game identity theft feeds $1bn a year on the black market. Staggering facts for a simple player like me. So how should the average gamer protect one’s self from having our ‘characters assassinated?’

After taking a bit of time, I wrote five simple rules that every gamer should follow:

1) Always enter your credit card details on a secure server with a SSL encryption of 128 or more. Please make sure a small lock displays at the bottom right hand of the screen in your browser. That would indicate a secure server.

2) If you store personal information (such as passwords or credit card numbers) on your computer or personal digital assistant, use an encryption program to protect it. Keep an electronic record, like a writable CD, of the sensitive information and store it in a secure place whenever you are not using it.

3) Never give out personal details (in example passwords, addresses, etc.) to friends, online clan members or anyone for that matter. Protect your identity at all costs.

4) Always use a password that is hard to remember. Do not use the same password everywhere as it increases the chances of being stolen. A good combination of letters and numbers should be sufficient.

5) Be very careful when browsing online sites and stay away from harmful sites that lead to hacking and illegal pirate software/games as these sites usually contain harmful trojans, worms and spyware cleverly disguised as legit programs. Be careful what you click “Okay” because you just might be giving the software permission to access files and personal information on your computer.

Well as long as you keep your wits about you, you should be able to stay on top of identity theft and continue enjoying playing your favorite MMORPG.

Guild Wars anyone?