NZ gamers vulnerable to cyberattacks that cost hundreds of dollars on average - survey

A woman playing a first player shooting game on a PC
Concerningly, many say they use the same password on multiple accounts. Photo credit: Getty Images

A new study has found 40 percent of Kiwi gamers have experienced a cyberattack on their gaming accounts, with two thirds of those impacted financially and losing an average of $723.

That puts them second in the world behind US gamers in the countries surveyed, who lost over $1000 on average, with German gamers just behind those in Aotearoa.

"New Zealand is a small, affluent nation, making it a prime target for cybercriminals. The financial losses of gamers should serve as a wake-up call to gamers to start improving their digital hygiene," Mark Gorrie, senior director APAC at NortonLifeLock said.

The research by The Harris Poll attracted over 5000 responses, with 500 New Zealand adults taking part, although no theoretical sampling error was able to be calculated from the survey.

The study also showed some Kiwi gamers were inclined to be less than scrupulous when it came to winning.

Nearly one in five surveyed (18 percent) admitted they would consider hacking into the gaming account of a friend, family member or romantic partner if they knew it would give them a competitive advantage in an online game.

"These findings are jarring, but there are some gamers out there that will do whatever it takes to win," BigCheeseKIT, gamer and Twitch streamer, said. 

"I've learned that when you’re gaming online, it’s so important to be mindful of who you are friends with online and what information you share when gaming online.

"While this is especially true for professional gamers who have that public profile, it’s clear this goes for any online gamer."

That desire to win isn't solely for competitive gamers, however, with casual players also showing a willingness to cheat.

More than a third who took part (35 percent) said they would exploit loopholes or bugs in a game, while 19 percent would be happy to pay to take control of someone else's gaming account.

"It shouldn't be a surprise that people will use the tools at their disposal to win a competition, gamers are no different. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are hyper-aware of the market for exploits and are using them to scam those seeking advantage in the usual ways," Gorrie said.

"They use dodgy links and hide malware in downloads that are advertised as rare items, in-game currency, or exploits to provide a competitive edge. Clicking a malicious link can lead to losing control of your data, passwords, accounts and financial details."

The survey's results appear to back up the stereotype of gamers being inclined to be antisocial if given the opportunity. Over 70 percent said they would rather spend time gaming than going on a date, while two thirds would rather game than go to a sporting event or concert.

Over half would prefer a controller in their hands than attending a friend or family member's birthday party.

More worryingly, many gamers admitted to risky online gaming habits, with more than half admitting they use the same passwords for multiple accounts, while over a third share personal information, including names and birthdays.

The survey was carried out in August and September of this year with adults aged 18 plus who currently play online games that require them to create an account and provide personal information.

NOTE: The financial losses experienced by gamers in New Zealand and the United States has been corrected in this article after an error originally stated they were 10 times more than the actual amounts.