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Call of Duty: Warzone cheaters could be at risk of malware attacks, warns Activision

call of duty warzone
(Image credit: Activision)

Call of Duty: Warzone cheats are being used as a carrier for malware, according to a report from Activision.

In a recent report (opens in new tab), the Call of Duty publisher examined a type of hacking tool known as a 'dropper' that's "being promoted for use against gamers by masquerading as a cheat for Call of Duty: Warzone." Droppers are pieces of malware that are used to install an extra pieces of software with specific roles, such as stealing credentials, and the one that Activision outlines can be customized to install even more destructive malware.

The tactic dates back to March 2020, when a hacker put forward the idea for a free, effective, and "newbie-friendly" method for spreading trojans. Since cheat programs are often given high-level privileges within a system, it's easy to convince people installing them to disable or uninstall security processes within their PC. The fake cheat was then uploaded to a popular cheat site the following month, and despite the vetting procedures reportedly in place on these sites, was still being posted as recently as March 1, 2021.

Activision goes on to point out that "the dependencies for a 'genuine' cheat to work are the same as those needed by most malware tools to successfully execute," and that "while this method is rather simplistic, it is ultimately a social engineering technique that leverages the willingness of its target (players that want to cheat) to voluntarily lower their security protections and ignore warnings about running potentially malicious software."

While it's never a good idea to cheat - not least because massive Call of Duty: Warzone ban waves are rolling out on a regular basis - Activision's explanation is a useful reminder that you might lose out on more than your Call of Duty account if you start downloading files of unknown origin.

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I'm GamesRadar's news editor, working with the team to deliver breaking news from across the industry. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.