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Thieves Targeting MMOGs Prompt Tighter Security

The popularity in fantasy online hosted massive multiplayer online game (MMOG) sites like Blizzard and K2 Network has led organized crime rings and hackers to highjack gamers' personal data, credit card numbers, and virtual game pieces and accessories that many spend years building on.

Organized crime units in Turkey, Russia and the Ukraine will hack into the online game database to highjack accounts, stealing user names and passwords, and either attempt to sell the characters and the accessories back to the original owner, or to other players at a discount price.

Securing the online game site, K2 Network Inc. has added a security platform from NetContinuum to protect the more than 7 million registered gamers that play on the site against virtual and real-world ID theft, an executive said Friday.

K2 Network senior director of infrastructure and engineering David S. Lee said people will pay between $2,000 and $8,000 for an account because of the money and time put into developing the characters in the game. "Online gamers typically stick with one game from eight months to three years, putting money into characters and accessories," Lee said. "About 60 to 70 percent of game publishers and hosting sites suffer from hacking every day."

K2 Network licenses many games from Asia, localizing them for markets worldwide. Many of the games focus on sorcery. People can create a virtual online societies and economies they build-on for years. By purchasing in-game currency, they buy swords, shields and potions that allow them to move up into higher game levels.

Scott Crawford, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates, has begun "to see intangible assets in the game, for example status, secrets and virtual real estate, given tangible value."

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