NGPriest: Hackers steal gamers’ currency

Ξ September 15th, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Author: NGPriest |

MapleStory players blame company for lax security
By Tan Weizhen
Players of the wildly popular online game MapleStory are furious with the company which hosts the game on its servers, Asiasoft.
Tens of thousands of virtual dollars were lost by gamers after Asiasoft’s servers were hacked into, and players are charging that the company did not provide them with adequate protection.
Worse, they say, Asiasoft has not compensated them for their losses.
Online forums are abuzz with chatters among victims, and 20 gamers called The Straits Times to complain about being shortchanged.
The gamers, mostly professionals in their 30s, say they have spnt up to $10,000 each on the game.
In MapleStory, players fight monsters and complete quests, which earn them in-game currency called “mesos”.
This currency allows them to buy more powers or weapons for their character – so they can progress to higher levels of the game – as well as more mundane items like stylish clothes.
But many who do not want to spend hours online to earn mesos short-circuit the process by forking out real cash for the currency.
This makes virtual cash hoards a tempting target for hackers, who aim to plunder accounts and sell their loot for the real thing.
Players say the hacking began last month, and is still continuing. The gamers believe hundreds of accounts have been hacked into so far.
“Every single day, we hear of accounts being hacked into,” said one player, housewife Serena Chiu, 38.
The victims blame Asiasoft’s lax online security.
“I’ve been playing for eight years and this is the first time I’ve seen gamers affected on such a big scale. American-based games are not as bad, with much, more frequent software updates and patches,” said engineer Eric Foo, 34.
Players rejected suggestions that lax practices – such as playing the game in cybercafes, whose computers are notorious for hosting trojans which can log passwords and the like – are responsible for their losses.
Said teacher Sandra Tay, 21: “The recent hacking cases are nothing like what we’ve seen before. Players who have never logged into their accounts in cybercafes, or given away passwords, or visited malicious websites, have been hacked.”
Other gamers agree, saying they are all savvy adults who know how to protect themselves online.
Asiasoft, meanwhile, says such hacking incidents for online multi-player games are fairly common, and that uses should be vigilant.
It added that it has taken action to combat the hacking, which it says originated in china, by increasing the number of firewalls for game servers. It has also advised gamers to change their login passwords on a regular basis.
But another beef of the gamers is that they will not be compensated for their losses.
The Straits Times understands that Asiasoft is unlikely to restore the accounts in full or return the virtual cash. However, it is trying to work out a compensation package.
“I’ve spent $10,000 and a lot of time and energy to build up all my characters and equipment. Now everything is gone…How can Asiasoft just brush off this incident?” asked irate Malaysian gamer Oon Jiunn Siang, 26, a sales executive.
there are questions over Asiasoft’s liability.
According to lawyer Bryan Tan, director of Keystone Law Corporation, “the loss is due to a third party and the server operator may say it is not his responsibility”.
He added: “The best the gamers can hope for is for the game host to restore the virtual cash to them out of goodwill.”
Police are investigating, but lawyers say this may bring scant relief to victims. The actions of the Singapore police are limited to this country, they say, and it is difficult to prosecute online criminals across jurisdictions.

 

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