The hotly anticipated videogame title Cyberpunk 2077 comes out on Dec. 10, inspiring breathless countdowns from gaming publications and enthusiasts across the globe. As with all things zeitgeisty, cybercriminals are looking to cash in on the excitement, with scams that offer “free copies” while stealing personal information.
Cyberpunk 2077, an open-world game that lets players create a character called “V” who lives in Night City and is looking to become a top-tier criminal, will be available for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Stadia, with compatibility with PS5 and Xbox Series X. It will cost $60 – a steep price tag for many.
According to researchers at Kaspersky, a series of websites have gone live in a range of languages, all with URLs containing keywords like “PC”, “games” and “download.” And they all offer free purported downloads for the game.
“If the visitor clicks the [download] button, the site downloads an executable file that appears to be an installer to the computer,” researchers noted in a Monday posting. “Opening it, the user sees a menu with some inactive buttons, creating the illusion that, once installed, the app can be used to run and configure the game.”
This menu offers three options: Install, Support and Exit. Clicking Install opens a window that pretends to be installing the game – and it eventually asks for a license key. Obviously the target won’t have said key, so the process offers a convenient “Get License Key” button.
Clicking this button directs users to a website that offers the user a chance to take a survey or enter a giveaway to get the key.
“The next prompt is a set of unrelated questions, as well as requests for a phone number and email address,” according to Kaspersky. “That contact information is the likely target of the attack; contact information is useful for spamming.”
Once victims complete the survey, they receive a supposed “key” which, when entered into the fake installer, appears to start loading the game, researchers said. The fake progress is then impaired though, with a splash screen that says users are missing a dynamic link library (DLL) required to run the game. Another download link is presented, which again redirects to a survey page – and that’s where the gambit ends.
This particular hoax is just one flavor of Cyberpunk 2077 scams, according to the firm.
“Downloading a nongame, wasting time on pointless surveys, and landing in yet another spam database is bad, although not fatal,” Kaspersky researchers said. “But similar schemes can be more dangerous.”
For example, cybercriminals could ask for money in exchange for the key. Or they could use the same routine to install malware.
“This year, we already registered several thousand infection attempts through fake Cyberpunk 2077 downloads,” researchers noted. “Ultimately, no matter how much you’re itching to plunge into the long-awaited game with a digitized Keanu Reeves, you’ll have to wait for the official release.”
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