An in-depth report pub­lished by Activi­sion, has shown that mal­ware dis­guised as Call of Duty: War­zone cheats gave hack­ers the abil­i­ty to “make some easy mon­ey” by bait­ing cheaters with high-end CPUs and GPUs.

The report, writ­ten by a team of Activi­sion researchers, exam­ines “a hack­ing tool being pro­mot­ed for use against games by mas­querad­ing as a cheat for Call of Duty: War­zone.” The tool, known as “Cod Drop­per v0.1,” is a high­ly cus­tomiz­able drop­per that can install destruc­tive types of mal­ware on a vic­tim’s computer.

A drop­per is a pro­gram that tricks a vic­tim into dis­abling their secu­ri­ties to gain access to their cre­den­tials, through this can occur with­out the knowl­edge of the vic­tim. Drop­pers are dis­guised as oth­er, more pop­u­lar appli­ca­tions. This gives the pro­gram a back­door to the vic­tim’s device, and they often are undetected.

In the case of “Cod Drop­per v0.1,” Activi­sion out­lined how the bad actors used the drop­per to mine cryp­tocur­ren­cy from their vic­tims by pro­mot­ing the mal­ware as “new­bie friend­ly” and “effec­tive” for spread­ing a remote access tro­jan (RAT). Hack­ers also post­ed on forums to adver­tise the RAT as a video game cheat built to “tar­get high-end CPU and GPU users,” accord­ing to one hack­er who shared a tutorial.

The drop­per was first spot­ted a year ago and spread quick­ly, gain­ing trac­tion across forums, spawn­ing dis­cus­sions and YouTube walk­throughs. It even made its way to a poplu­ar cheat­ing site in April 2020, labeled as a “new cod hack,” and was repost­ed to the same forum in March 2021 as a “very sim­ple cheat.”

Activi­sion con­clud­ed the report by say­ing that “the depen­den­cies for a ‘gen­uine’ cheat to work are the same as those need­ed by most mal­ware tools to suc­cess­ful­ly exe­cute.” Activi­sion added that “Cod Drop­per v0.1” is “a social engi­neer­ing tech­nique” one that exploits play­ers will­ing to cheat the system. 

Cheaters have been a major issue for Call of Duty: War­zone for quite some time. It seems that no mat­ter how hard Activi­sion and Raven Soft­ware clamp down, they can’t seem to ful­ly sift the cheaters out of the game. This has caused high-pro­file play­ers to aban­don the game entirely.