Beware the Cyberpunk 2077 ‘Free Download’ Cyberscam

Beware the Cyberpunk 2077 ‘Free Download’ Cyberscam
Keanu wouldn't fall for this. (Screenshot: CD Projekt Red)

I really shouldn’t have to warn anyone about this kind of scam, but it’s time for Cyberpunk 2077 to hit the streets and hackers are ready to take advantage of the excitement. So, if you receive a free download code for the year’s most anticipated video game, no matter how cool it looks, don’t install it.

The security researchers at Kaspersky Labs said on Monday that they’ve identified a network of websites that are being used to offer “free downloads” of Cyberpunk 2077. The sites are mostly identical aside from the URL and language used for each, and they look pretty professional.

According to Kaspersky, a targeted user downloads an installer from one of the malicious websites and is presented with a few options. Clicking install launches a progress bar giving the appearance of an installation process but, in fact, nothing is happening in the background. After a short period of time, the program asks for a licence key and has a button to click to acquire the key.

Up until this point, an inattentive user might be forgiven for thinking it’s their lucky day, but the next step should set off alarms for anyone who surfs the web. Obtaining a licence key requires the completion of some online survey questions that include prompts to enter contact info like phone number and email address. For now, Kaspersky’s researchers believe data collection for future malicious use is the primary intent of the scam.

After completing the survey, a licence key is generated, and once it’s entered, the game appears to load up before it’s abruptly interrupted by a warning message saying that there’s a missing file. Once again, the user is sent to another survey that contains no further hope for anyone hoping to jack into the future with Keanu.

Kaspersky says it’s identified “several thousand infection attempts” using fake Cyberpunk 2077 downloads over the course of the last year. On top of being a product that people are excited about, it’s had a ton of release date changes and that has the potential to lead to confusion. What’s more, the game is releasing globally at the same time on December 10th, so depending on where you live, you’ll need to double-check exactly when it releases in your region. A well-timed email could catch people who preordered off-guard.