Online Gaming: An Emerging Avenue for Exploitation?
Some may argue that the proliferation of personal computers together with the widespread use of the Internet has brought many benefits to society. The popularity of the Internet and its associated online services continues to grow at an exponential rate and consequently, so does the number of avenues for potential exploitation. Prior research has already established that sexual predators and social engineers use the Internet as a means to target and exploit individuals. Indeed, previous studies highlight the significant threats faced by users of instant messaging and social networking facilities. Online role-playing games and virtual environments such as World of Warcraft and Second Life provide yet another platform for users to interact with one another. Evidence suggests that subscribers of such services often become so immersed in such fantasy worlds that their ability to differentiate between the virtual and real world is reduced. This paper investigates the level of threat faced by heavy users of 3D virtual environments and online role-playing games to potential social engineering exploits. The study made use of an online survey to assess the current level of awareness and understanding amongst individuals who spend excessive amounts of time engaging in such environments.Sanders B, Dowland PS, Furnell SM