Pokémon Go: Into the real world, with real crime

The game is getting its players off the couch, which already wasn’t safe from the bad guys

Pokémon Go sneaked up on me. One minute, I knew nothing about it, and the next, just about everyone was talking about it.

The twist with Pokémon Go is that players can catch Pokémon in real life, out on the streets and away from their couches. I love the idea that a smartphone game not only can be played anywhere, but actually requires its players to get outside. But because security is always on my mind, I quickly wondered what crimes Pokémon Go would enable. The answer wasn’t long in coming.

Criminals are quick to exploit new opportunities, and they have been targeting video gamers for a long time. Many games encourage in-app purchases, and they often allow players to trade tokens with other players. That creates an incentive for criminals to get their hands on people’s tokens, which they can then sell for financial gain. One major online gaming company hired me to strengthen its user authentication mechanisms, since criminals had been using social engineering to get help desk employees to reset passwords, thus granting them access to players’ in-app assets.  Continue reading…

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