A new report suggests children as young as 14 are profiting from hacking Fortnite user accounts and selling them to others.
Although Fortnite: Battle Royale is free-to-play the accounts can be worth hundreds of pounds if they include rare or expensive skins, that change the visual appearance of the in-game player character.
The BBC investigation spoke to 20 alleged hackers, one of which described how he learnt of the trade by first being hack himself and losing around £50 of in-game items.
He was then tempted into buying another stolen account, before being approached by a group of hackers who showed him how to hack accounts himself.
The primary method of gaining access to the accounts involves finding lists of usernames and passwords online, collated from all the many data breaches from various companies over the last several years.
He then acquired ready-made hacker tools that allowed him to enter the credentials into Fortnite and, by then changing the account passwords, steal it for himself.
Its lucky dip basically, you either get a good account or you dont. People like the rarity of the skins and its about the look of them and showing off to friends, he told the BBC.
The hacker claims he made around £1,500 in his first few weeks and that while his parents are aware of what hes doing, and that it is illegal, they havent stopped him.
Despite this, anyone convicted of hacking accounts could face up to two years in jail.
Cybercriminals as young as 14 look at Fortnite and see dollar signs. The feverishly high demand for in-game rewards has created a lucrative black market for hacked Fortnite accounts, Simon Migliano, head of research at Top10VPN.com, told Metro.
Exacerbating this situation is the increasingly low barrier of entry for hacking. Anyone hoping for some easy money selling stolen accounts of any stripe can simply hop on the dark web and, for just pocket change, find a whole host of hacking tools and idiot-proof guides on how to use them.
As weve seen with the Fortnite hacking trade, this puts young people at much higher risk of becoming involved in illegal activity and ending up with a criminal record.
Developer Epic Games are being called on to increase security, but while they do claim to be looking into the problem the best defence is to add two-factor authentication to an account – which many players do not do.
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