Developed by Mojang Studios and released in 2011, Minecraft is still an all-time favourite for millions of users 11 years later. Minecraft is a game where you can explore virtually infinite maps, harvest resources and food, craft weapons and building materials, and build simple structures or complex buildings. Your imagination is the only limit. You can go at it solo, or you can join multiplayer servers and explore with your friends. You can also join public servers and roam with other players around the world.
As of August 2021, Minecraft amassed a monthly user base of 141 million players, with an average of between 2-3 million users daily. To date, Minecraft has sold over 238 million copies of the game, earning it the title of “most sold game in history”. It is advertised as being suitable for users aged 8 and older, but many younger children know Minecraft as their first game.
Downloading and using mods for Minecraft is and has always been popular with the game, and whenever external downloads become popular with any game, it allows cybercriminals to weasel their way in and create and distribute malicious content, such as malware and viruses. In a report published by Atlas VPN, nearly 185 thousand Minecraft PC users were impacted with over 3 million malware files being detected between the 1st of July 2020 and the 30th of June 2021. Minecraft was also the most commonly used game for masking cyber threats on mobile platforms, with more than 44 thousand users being affected and nearly 303 thousand threats being detected.
So, what is this malicious software and how does it make its way onto your device? Malware, or malicious software, is not to be taken lightly, as it can potentially format hard drives and delete data and system programs. Certain infected files can contain spyware and adware. One specific mod pack that was downloaded from the Google play store and analysed by Kaspersky caused the device to continuously open the browser every two minutes to display ads, rendering the device essentially unusable.
Malware finds its way onto your device when infected files, usually masked as mods or skins, are downloaded. The simplest way to avoid downloading infected files is to simply not download mods or skins and enjoy the base game without any add-ons. If you just can’t live without mods, you can try downloading them from a trusted source, such as CurseForge.
If your device starts experiencing performance issues and you start receiving error messages related to disk formatting, you may have downloaded an infected file. Scan your device with an anti-virus software. It should be able to detect the infected file and remove it for you, however, you may have to reinstall the game from the Microsoft store. In the worst-case scenario, you may have to reset your PC, but a decent anti-virus software should get the job done.