Warning issued to all Grand Theft Auto fans — scammers use fake GTA 6 downloads to steal your bank details

promotional image for gta 6 shows the two main protagonists sat on the bonnet of a car holding a pistol with palm trees and in the pink background

GTA 6, stylised as Grand Theft Auto VI, returns the action to the fictional city of Vice City, which is a satirical version of Miami

Aaron Brown

By Aaron Brown

Published: 07/12/2023

- 15:28

The next entry into the multi-billion Grand Theft Auto franchise doesn't release until 2025

  • Record-breaking GTA 6 trailer published on YouTube on December 5, 2023
  • Crooks hope to capitalise on the interest to push malware
  • Declining disc sales mean spoof download links are more effective for hackers
  • Security experts warn fans to exercise caution ahead of the GTA 6 release date

Grand Theft Auto fans were treated to their first real glimpse of the feverishly-anticipated game this week. The trailer, which was released earlier than planned after hackers leaked footage on social media, has broken the record for most YouTube views within 24-hours, clocking in an eye-watering 100 million views and counting.

The previous entry in the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series has earned the accolade of biggest entertainment product in history, bringing in revenue of $6 billion worldwide. That compares to $4 billion from best-selling franchises like Star Wars, and the $2.8 billion raked in by James Cameron's Avatar — the highest-grossing film in history.

It's been over a decade since GTA V launched worldwide, so there's huge interest in the next entry in the video game series, which will launch on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S in 2025.

But that level of popularity has attracted some unwanted attention from cyber crooks too. Looking to capitalise on the excitement, criminals are desperately trying to tempt fans into clicking on their links by promising a free trial or new leaks about the blockbuster game.

If someone unsuspectedly does click on one of these links, crooks will download malware to their device designed to steal personal information, like a password, payment details, or home address. This could enable bad actors to steal your identity.

Other types of malware discovered using these nefarious techniques were used to track your location, players have been warned.

With sales of physical media declining, the industry-wide shift towards digital downloads means players are more susceptible to these types of attacks.

This is nothing new. Scam artists have long followed the latest trends in an attempt to convince people to mistakenly download their viruses and malware. Security experts have seen hackers target the likes of The Last Of Us and Hogwarts Legacy to solicit clicks.

When Game of Thrones was the most popular TV show on the planet, fans had to dodge a barrage of malware and phishing attempts trying to capitalise on the success of the show — and viewers needed to discover new information and leaked episodes.

With two years to go until Grand Theft Auto VI hits store shelves, there's still a long road ahead. Fans seeking new morsels of information should be very cautious.

Speaking about the threat, Marijus Briedis, Chief Technology Officer at NordVPN, said: "The gaming community has been waiting for Grand Theft Auto 6 for a decade now, so it is only natural that fans will try to get at least a trial version as soon as possible. Unfortunately, curiosity and impatience open new opportunities for cybercriminals.

"Even though GTA 6 is still under development, and creators promise to release it in 2025, the internet is full of links promising the possibility to download the game. Usually, these types of malware can be used to track you or steal personal data, banking credentials, or your identity. These malicious files can hide on a computer for a long time and do their job without visible harm."

What's the best way to avoid these malicious files? "Only download games from official sites, and use software like Threat Protection," the NordVPN boss adds.

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