Gamers have been warned to be more security conscious due to the increasing number of online criminals stealing virtual assets and selling them on for real money.
Security vendor Trend Micro reported that over 3,600 spyware attacks on login and password information for online games occurred last year. Players of online games such as Second Life and World of Warcraft were targeted via spam email messages claiming to offer virtual goods which then stole password information.
Last year Microsoft also highlighted to gamers that hackers were using software to infiltrate PCs and steal account details. The hackers then sold the stolen items, such as virtual gold, clothing and weapons, to other gamers on auction sites. Avatars, or virtual representations of a user, for World of Warcraft have been known to sell for hundreds of dollars.