There was a time in the dim distant past, aka 2005, when unscrupulous types made their fortune by stealing MMORPG characters and attributes and selling them for huge profits. Sucked in, chumps! That market is officially dead.
The chart below, presented by Kaspersky Lab founder Eugene Kaspersky at the company's annual security summit in Malaga, Spain, shows how the volume of game fraud-related malware has dropped dramatically in recent years, after rising rapidly between 2005 and 2008.
The simple reason for the change? There's not enough money in it any more. As Kaspersky noted, while high-ranking game characters were once exchanged for massive sums, these days the going price in crime-minded forums is a measly 70 Euros or so.
Yes, that would still get you a skanky motel room in the outer suburbs of Dusseldorf, but at those prices, there are more profitable avenues for the ambitious young cyber-criminal with an empty wallet and no evident sense of ethics. As Kaspersky himself sung to the assembled crowd to the tune of a well-known Bob Marley classic: "No business, no crime."
Disclosure: Angus Kidman travelled to Spain as a guest of Kaspersky Lab.