A computer virus has spread among tens of thousands of Fortnite players, as hackers seek to take advantage of the vast numbers playing the popular video game.
Security researchers at game-streaming platform Rainway uncovered the issue, which originates from a YouTube video claiming to offer free units V-Bucks – a virtual in-game currency.
After receiving thousands of error reports on their platform, the researchers began looking for what those experiencing problems had in common. After noticing that all users affected appeared to be playing Fortnite, they found themselves trawling through hundreds of YouTube videos about the game that contained malicious links.
“We finally found a match in a hack claiming to allow players to generate free V-Bucks and use an aimbot, two birds with one stone, how could someone resist?” states a blog that details their findings.
The hack created a “Man in the Middle Attack”, whereby the user’s internet connection is intercepted by a hacker in order to install dangerous software.
Rainway filed an abuse report of the issue, but not before 78,000 people had already downloaded it.
It is not the first time Fortnite videos on YouTube have been blamed for spreading viruses, as malicious actors seek to capitalise on the video game’s popularity.
Cyber criminals have used the video-sharing platform to share fake versions of an Android version of the game, which was uncovered last month by Lukas Stefanko, a malware researcher at IT security firm ESET.
“There are dozens of YouTube videos with millions of views leading users to fake ad generating revenue,” Mr Stefanko told The Independent at the time.
He added: “The risks are high because people believe and download whatever app they find in the description under YouTube videos. In one case, I found Trojan-SMS, but there could be ransomware, banking malware or spying software.”
Another security researcher, Nathan Collier, noted the proliferation of YouTube videos containing malicious links within their descriptions.
The issue has been acknowledged by YouTube, with a spokesperson telling The Independent: “Our Community Guidelines prohibit spam, scams, and other deceptive practices and we remove these videos when we are made aware of them.”
According to Rainway and Mr Stefanko, Epic Games could be doing more to educate Fortnite players of the dangers posed by malicious apps and links.
“Epic could 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,” Rainway said in the blog post.
“I’d also recommend they spend more time moderating YouTube to help take down these videos to avert a countless number of people from pwning themselves. Sometimes the allure of cheating is powerful, and a strong presence is needed to help push people in the right direction.”
Epic Games did not respond to a request for comment.