Fortnite is currently one of the most popular games on the planet, which means it has inevitably attracted players who cheat at the game by using software. It now appears that pretty much all of those cheating apps contain malware.
The team behind Rainway, a game streaming service that lets you play your PC games remotely, noticed that there was an alarming growth in security alerts in its logs and decided to investigate further. It appeared that the common factor in this rise in security issues was people playing Fortnite with extra software to help them cheat at the game.
These apps can give players an unfair advantage by helping them aim faster, fire more rapidly and even slow down other players. While these cheaters, and the apps they run, can ruin people’s games, the fact that the apps may be spreading malware is much more serious.
Cheaters never prosper
In a blog post detailing how the Rainway team discovered a virus infecting “tens of thousands” of Fortnite players, CEO Andrew Sampson explained how the team was alerted to a huge number of calls to various ad platforms. Rainway doesn’t have ads on the service, so this was a red flag.
According to Sampson, “We downloaded hundreds of programs, all claiming to do something to help a player get ahead. While they were all indeed malicious, we were looking for a specific one.”
After hours of searching, the team found an app that promised to generate free V-Bucks (the in-game currency) as well as using an ‘aimbot’ to make aiming easier. The Rainway team installed the app on a virtual machine, and it immediately installed a root certificate on the device and then changed settings in Windows to proxy all web traffic through the software, which is a serious ‘man in the middle’ attack.
By the time the Rainway team found this issue, the app had been downloaded over 78,000 times.
This was just one app out of hundreds, so the risk of a serious epidemic is quite real if people continue to download and run these cheating programs. If you’re a Fortnite player, don’t be tempted to install one. Not only are you spoiling the game for other players, but you’re putting your PC at risk.
Rainway also suggests that Epic, the company behind Fortnite, should “do a better job at educating their users on these malicious programs and helping them understand how airtight Fortnite’s systems are at preventing cheating”.
Hopefully Epic will take this advice seriously to help stem the tide of malware and make its game more enjoyable for everyone.