Fortnite, one of the most played mobile games, is currently involved in a legal dispute between Epic Games and Apple. Although aside from having legal issues, it also has what it takes to become a gold mine for cybercriminals.
Hackers of Fortnite earn about $1.2 million (almost Rs 8.7 crore) a year through selling stolen accounts and in-game skins. They first collect thousands of stolen Fortnite accounts together before putting these in the auction within private Telegram channels. Their selling price would range between $10,000 and $40,000 per log.
According to Night Lion Security, a cybersecurity consulting and investigation firm, the supply and demand for stolen Fortnite accounts are so expansive and lucrative in the black market.
On the lower end of the scale, sellers of stolen Fortnite accounts earn an average of $5,000 every month, or $60,000 per annum. This will total at an overall average of $40,000 every month, or $480,000 per annum for each seller.
In 2017, Fortnite was launched with a feature called the battle royale format where 100 players will compete to be the last surviving player in a remote island.
This popular game, being available on multiple platforms, easily acquired a huge following that reaches over 30 million players.
To check for the validity of a Fortnite account, you can do it by loading a list of email/password combinations into the correct software.
According to DonJuji, an esteemed cracker in the underground hacking community, the high-end Fortnite cracking tool will average between 15 and 25 thousand checks per minute or almost 500 account checks per second.
Epic Games, Fortnite’s developer, is exerting effort to stop these mass account checks by limiting the number of logins for every IP address.
However, as stated in one report, hackers can work around this restriction by using expensive proxy rotation services, like Luminati or OxyLabs, to gain a new IP address per their request.
The value of each hacked Fornite account will depend on the character’s in-game skins. These digital costumes are what adds value to the accounts which makes them the core of the entire underground market for Fortnite.
As many successful crackers said, an average success rate of 10-15 percent can be generated by checking for skins on Epic Games logins.
For example, for every batch of 20,000 checked accounts, a seller will have about 2,000 skins. These skins are then packaged and sold as a single “log”.
Based on the report from Data Viper, a threat actor intelligence research and brand monitoring platform, most breaches involving stolen user data are the doings of hacking groups like Gnostic Players and Shiny Hunters. They are then considered indirectly responsible for instigating the whole criminal economy involving stolen gaming accounts.
Aside from Fornite, Roblox, Runescape, and Minecraft are three more games that are greatly profitable in the black market.
As a study shows, adding a variation of +33 percent, or 186 million for every game, will bring a total gross profit of $700 million per year for just the four video games.
An added revenue of 30 percent, or $30 million a year, can be generated through tallying black market sales for each available video game. This makes the whole market of hacked video games an industry that generates a billion-dollar per annum.
The demand for this market is even more increasing due to the Covid-19 global pandemic. Staying at home gives people a great amount of extra time for video games, hence the need for gaming accounts.
As of today, video games companies are still not able to slow down this underground market. For high-end hackers, this means they can still continue selling stolen accounts and earn between six or seven figures a year in revenue.