Research from cybersecurity firm Akamai said there had been ten billion attacks on the games sector between July 2018 and June 2020.
The attacks use a method known as credential stuffing, the report said, as criminals attempt to gain access to games and gaming services by using lists of username and password combinations stolen in other cyberattacks and available to buy from sources online.
Warnings have been issued by cybersecurity experts around the world about a rise in attempted attacks, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, as millions of people spent more time at home and online.
The report also suggested that phishing scams were being used against video game players, with cybercriminals creating fake websites linked to a specific game or gaming platform with the goal of tricking players into revealing login details.
Akamai’s study said that between July 2019 and June 2020, of more than 5,600 unique distributed denial of service (DDoS) cyber attacks it witnessed, over 3,000 were aimed at the gaming industry.
DDoS attacks attempt to bring down a service by flooding it with internet traffic, and this figure made gaming the most targeted sector, Akamai said.
Steve Ragan, the firm’s security researcher and author of the report, said: “The fine line between virtual fighting and real world attacks is gone.
“Criminals are launching relentless waves of attacks against games and players alike in order to compromise accounts, steal and profit from personal information and in-game assets, and gain competitive advantages.
“It’s vital that gamers, game publishers and game services work in concert to combat these malicious activities through a combination of technology, vigilance and good security hygiene.”
Despite the concerns raised in the report, a survey of gamers by Akamai and gaming lifestyle festival DreamHack found that only 20% were worried or very worried about being hacked.
This was despite more than half (55%) of those who identified as frequent players confirming they had been the victim of a cyberattack at some point.
“Gaming has always brought communities together, so all of us at DreamHack want to ensure our valued communities of fans and players are protected from cyberattacks of this nature,” DreamHack chief strategy officer Tomas Lykedal said.
“These findings are important so everyone involved can also help ensure that, together, we are doing all we can to protect privacy and personal information when engaging on these world stages and global platforms.”