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May 2nd, 2008

Malware In Online Game For Mobile Phones Launders Money

According to German Crime Investigating Authorities (LKA), a malicious program running on mobile phones can make unauthorized calls. These calls are connected to specific SMS number which is used to top-up the amount of virtual money for one of the online games. A scheme to increase in-game cash via SMS messages is frequently used by online game vendors. The malware will use your phone and accordingly your money to add virtual cash to attackers accounts.

In the past, malware writers simply programmed malware to call a premium high cost phone number from a desktop or a mobile device. Of course, with this old method it is easier to trace the destination of funds because for such calls real money is transferred from a phone company to the owner of the premium number. It relatively easy to track the money this way.

This new and indirect way of laundering money through an online game makes it significantly more difficult to track the destination – several in-game transfers can be made before the money is taken out of the game through real-money trading, which is a prohibited offense in most online games (some games allow that, for example Second Life).

Users should not use programs for mobile phones that came from unverified sources like game forums, internet newsgroups, emails, P2P networks, blogs, etc. and also be vigilant and submit suspicious programs for anti-virus vendors analysis.

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