Safety in the World of Warcraft
July 5, 2009
In World of Warcraft, there are villains; menacing monsters, undead demons and psychotic kings threatening to end all life. There are also riches for the taking. It turns out that the virtual in-game currency used to buy and sell items and supplies within the game (called wow gold) is worth real world money. At the moment, according to prices listed at epictoon.com, one thousand wow gold coins are worth about ten US dollars. There is even more value in the game accounts themselves. While you can purchase the game initially from many retailers for as low as $20 - once you have invested the time and money necessary to increase your game character's experience level and equip it with the best virtual property, the value of the account may have increased to over two thousand US dollars. Put these facts together with real life villains and it's not surprising that there are real threats to account security. Scammers, keyloggers, phishing sites and other malicious efforts to snag accounts are common. Some efforts are broad; email based phishing ploys using fraudulent Paypal messages, claims of undelivered packages, news of contest winnings, and other forms of bait to hook the unwary. Other efforts are personal and highly targeted, like the monsters lurking in the dark alleys of Stormwind and Orgrimmar, the capital cities within the game. In the context of playing the game, where it's easy to get comfortable with the smiling, cute little character with whom you are grouped, it's also easy to forget that behind the cuddly little dwarf is a complete stranger.
How exactly can you protect yourself from the real-life villains targeting WoW? The best tools at your disposal are to be informed of the most common ploys, when you buy and sell virtual assets work only with proven, reputable companies and don't assume anything about the other party except that they may be out to take your stuff.
Scams take advantage of one thing - trust. For instance, a player may befriend you in the game, and later, ask to borrow gold, items or even access to the guild bank. There are many cases of scammers pretending to be employees of the game publisher, known as Game Masters. Typically, they ask you to verify your account login information, which they then use to steal your account. Many players have fallen for this trick. Never, for any reason, give your login information to anyone. Period.
Phishing is the act of stealing usernames, passwords and even personal information through the use of fake websites and forms. It’s usually spread through links and emails disguised as originating from a real service provider, such as Paypal, or even the official World of Warcraft website. When an unsuspecting user enters their login information, the username and password is captured and sent to the sly hacker. The victim’s account is then stripped of gear, gold and crafting materials. Often, the account login information is changed, and the account is then sold to an unsuspecting buyer.
The simple solution to this nasty problem is easy. Never provide information directly via an email/link sent to you for any reason. Instead, visit the official company site by typing their URL into your browser manually. Doing so will eliminate any chance that you will unwittingly fall prey to a phishing scam.
Always be aware of the companies with whom you do business. It is well established that many China-based gold sellers do not adhere to ethical business practices. The list of abuses includes non delivery of products ordered, abusive in-game spam, dealing in stolen merchandise and stolen credit cards, etc. Sites like Wowmine.com, which recently found itself the star of a click fraud lawsuit filed by Microsoft (http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2009/06/lawsuit_confirms_that_microsof.php), allegedly take scamming even further, employing black hat SEO strategies as well. Avoid these Chinese sites – it is better to be safe than sorry.
To summarize, be alert to possible fraud. Keep your passwords to yourself. Use a Blizzard Authenticator. Don’t be lured by offers that are too good to be true, and never visit suspicious links. Buy WoW gold and other virtual game items and accessories only from reputable companies.
For more information, visit www.epictoon.com. Low prices, really fast delivery. Safe and guaranteed.
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