A study by Surfshark VPN finds that Grand Theft Auto 5 and Mortal Kombat 11 are among the top 10 most dangerous games to search for on Google.
A new study found that Grand Theft Auto 5 and Mortal Kombat 11 are among the top 10 most dangerous games to search for on Google.
Surfshark VPN created the study to “give internet users the best chance at protecting themselves from falling into [a] cyberattack trap.” Specifically, the team looked for the presence of malware or potential malware in Google searches for specific pop culture topics, including popular video games. While the study found video games to be comparatively safe to search for over other subjects, it still found surprisingly high numbers of potential malware among searches for specific games.
To conduct the study, Surfshark VPN curated a list of the most popular video game search terms and inserted them into Google, adding “torrent” and “download” to individual queries. Next, it grabbed the first five pages of URLs and ran them through a malware detector at Securi SiteCheck, ranking each title based on how many URLs were flagged for containing potential malware. Mortal Kombat 11 — the latest iteration of the classic fighting franchise — took the top spot with 46.5% of results flagged. Family-friendly battle royale game Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout came in at a close second with 46.4%, while GTA 5 grabbed the third spot with 43.5% of results flagged.
The study also tested search results for popular movies, music, TV shows and anime, allowing a comparative analysis between formats. Crediting the rise of digital distribution, Surfshark found that video games are more difficult to pirate than movies or music, with “just 33.9% of search results for the 50 most popular video games containing potential malware, one of the smallest shares in any category.” Rounding out the top 10 in the gaming category are God of War (41.8%), Escape From Tarkov (41.8%), NBA 2K22 (41.7%), Titanfall 2 (41.4%), PUBG (40.8%), Forza Horizon 5 (40.0%) and Counter-Strike: GO (39.8%).
Surfshark added a caveat to the gaming category, warning that downloadable mods for PC games pose a risk to consumers. GTA 5 has hundreds of mods, as does Mortal Kombat 11, but the study cautions that these user-made additions “allow hackers a major opportunity to lure gamers to malware.” The research points to GTA 5 mods in particular, citing an incident in 2015 in which multiple mods for the game were found to contain “malware that logged computer activity and sent and received data across the web.”
Contending with cheaters, hackers and malware is an ongoing struggle in the video game industry for both fans and developers alike. Game number seven on the list, Titanfall 2, was involved in a hacking scandal in 2021 when angry players hacked several of its developer’s games to protest online cheating.
Mortal Kombat 11 is available on Steam and the Microsoft Store. GTA 5 is available on Steam and the Epic Store.
Source: Surfshark VPN
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