In an industry worth over an estimated hundred billion US dollars, gaming is not just big business for developers and manufacturers, but for cybercriminals too. Steam Stealer is a constantly evolving breed of malware that is responsible for hijacking the user accounts of the popular gaming platform, Steam.
The malware’s goal is to steal online gaming items and user account credentials, and then resell them on the black market. It is distributed to cybercriminals under a malware-as-a-service business model with an extremely low entry price of up to $30 USD.
Steam is one of the most popular entertainment multi-OS distribution platforms. Owned by Valve, it has over 100 million registered users and several thousand games available for download worldwide.
Its popularity makes it a large and attractive target for fraudster groups, who can sell Steam user credentials for $15 USD on the black market. According to recently published official Steam data, 77,000 Steam accounts are hijacked and pillaged every month.
According to Kaspersky Lab researcher Santiago Pontiroli and his independent research colleague Bart P., a new breed of malware known as Steam Stealer is the prime suspect in the pilfering of numerous user accounts from Valve’s flagship platform.
The duo believes the malware was originally developed by Russian-speaking cybercriminals; they have found many language traces in several underground malware forums to suggest this.
Steam Stealer works in a malware-as-a-service business model: it is available for sale in different versions, with distinct features, free upgrades, user manuals, custom advice for distribution, and more.
When it comes to these types of malicious campaigns the usual starting price for “solutions” is in the range of $500 USD.
However, Steam Stealers have a ludicrously low price, being commonly sold for no more than $30 USD. This makes the malware highly attractive for wannabe cybercriminals all around the world.
The propagation of Steam Stealers is mainly, but not solely, done either via fake cloned websites distributing the malware, or through a social engineering approach, where the victim is targeted with direct messages.
Once the malware is in the user’s system it steals the entire set of Steam configuration files. Once this is done it locates the specific Steam KeyValue file that contains user credentials, as well as the information that maintains a user’s session. When cybercriminals have obtained this information, they can control the user’s account.