From Federico Biancuzzi’s interview with security researchers Greg Hoglund & Gary McGraw, authors of Exploiting Online Games, in “Real Flaws in Virtual Worlds” (SecurityFocus: 20 December 2007):
The more I dug into online game security, the more interesting things became. There are multiple threads intersecting in our book: hackers who cheat in online games and are not detected can make tons of money selling virtual items in the middle market; the law says next to nothing about cheating in online games, so doing so is really not illegal; the kinds of technological attacks and exploits that hackers are using to cheat in online games are an interesting bellwether; software is evolving to look very much like massively distributed online games look today with thick clients and myriad time and state related security problems. [Emphasis added]
In Brazil, a criminal gang even kidnapped a star MMORPG player in order to take away his character, and its associated virtual wealth.
The really interesting thing about online game security is that the attackers are in most cases after software running on their own machine, not software running on somebody else’s box. That’s a real change. Interestingly, the laws we have developed in computer security don’t have much to say about cheating in a game or hacking software on your own PC.