Teenagers of just 14 years of age are making thousands a week as part of a worldwide hacking syndicate created around the famed online Fortnite video game. They’re doing so by stealing private accounts of gamers and reselling them on the net.
Fortnite In-Game Purchases
Fortnite is a free game, but creators Epic Games, who launched it in 2017, regularly releases “skins,” which players purchase to alter the appearance of their characters. The game, which has over 200 million players, has made over $1.3bn through sales of “skins,” and other add-ons.
The sale of skins is fueling the burgeoning black market as hackers can sell players’ accounts for just 0.33 cents or hundreds of dollars, depending on their content.
The items are collected as “in-game purchases,” but are only superficial and don’t afford gamers any added abilities. Epic has declined to comment on an investigation underway but has stated that it is working to increase account security.
Entering the Black Market
Meanwhile, according to the Forbes news site, people have been sending in countless reports claiming that their accounts have been compromised. One anonymous hacker got involved at the age of 14 when his Fortnite account was hacked after he’d built up a collection of skins.
He received a message that his email password to his account had been changed and that someone else had added two-factor verification to access it.
He could only access his account by entering a code sent to an app or email address registered by the culprit. He vented his frustration on Twitter, as do many victims, and noticed new accounts with even better items up for sale.
He was approached by someone who offered him an account for just 0.33 cents although it was evident that it was worth much more. While he knew it was stolen, he bought it since so many others are doing the same thing and making a small fortune doing so. And so, he entered the world of what is called “Fortnite cracking.”
Many of those who have had their account taken over are smacked with high charges for games and other items that they never even bought.
Online Tips on how to “Crack”
There are also cracking teams that teach others how to crack showing them where to find lists of passwords and usernames published online from previous data breaches over the years. They also know where to buy “off-the-shelf” hacking tools required to input credentials into the Fortnite login page.
Once inside the account, the next step is to take it over and sell it to the eager online community — mainly people who like rare skins and want to show them off to their friends. In just one day, crackers can access over 1,000 Fortnite accounts.
Dodging the Law
These offenses are illegal and come under the mandate of the Computer Misuse Act. The can mean a two-year prison sentence. However, hackers don’t seem concerned or sorry.
According to one of the most active Hackers, a Slovenian 17-year-old, who even sells accounts via his website, you cannot get caught, and no one checks. He has made £16,000 in just seven months. Others are netting around $70-$400 a day and some, $3,000 a week.
According to the National Crime Agency, there is an established link between hacking and video games. They encourage game publishers to take more action to stop players being tempted down a path of crime. They also say that low-level hacking could be a grooming stage for more severe cyber-crime in the future.
To prevent being hacked, players are urged to use two-factor authentication. This security measure makes an account difficult for hackers to crack. Epic even rewards players who adopt it with in-game accessories, however, they have yet to make it a mandatory step.