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10:00am on Thursday, 18th December, 2008:



There's been a recent kerfuffle over a vulnerability in Internet Explorer that meant your PC could become compromised simply by visiting the wrong (mainly Chinese) web site. It was widely reported in the UK that people should be extremely careful about using IE until it was patched, because once your machine was infected the hackers could get hold of personal information such as your bank account details.

It's always your "bank account details", isn't it?

What the hackers were actually trying to get were access details for MMOs. They can make more money from selling those on the black market than they can from selling bank account details. I didn't find this out until I heard a security expert being interviewed on the radio; the presenter was completely thrown to find that the Chinese hackers were not interested in her "bank account details", and kept pressing the interviewee to tell her how the virus could be used by someone who did want them. He duly explained that it would be possible by changing the payload downloaded by the trojan that IE's vulnerability dumps on your PC, but that the hackers were aiming at passwords for mainly Chinese regional games. The presenter seemed to think that this meant they were trying to steal people's "winnings", but he said no, these were games like World of Warcraft. She hadn't a clue what he was talking about. As far as she was concerned, hackers are only ever after one thing: "bank account details".

Perhaps, given all this, the media will now finally realise that MMOs are not just some backwater activity, but actually something quite important?

HA! Like that's going to happen any time soon...

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Copyright © 2008 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).