Hackers are exploiting Call Of Duty: Warzone cheaters with malware

Cold War execution
(Image credit: Activision)

Malware has been propagating through the Call Of Duty: Warzone scene disguised as a cheat, according to a new Activision security report (via Charlie Intel).

Warzone has long been plagued by cheats and exploits, with Activision recently banning another 30,000 cheaters in March. But the race to find the next big cheat has caught the eyes of more traditional hackers, who are more than ready to exploit Warzone players looking for an edge.

The malware in question, CoD Dropper v0.1, was advertised to potential hackers as a "newbie friendly" dropper—effectively, a vessel for delivering more damaging viruses. While would-be cheaters downloaded the software on the promise of speedhacks, aimbots and infinite ammo among others, the hack ended up giving malicious actors a means to siphon data from the target PC.

Notably, Activision reports that the kinds of practices that make "genuine" cheats viable are exactly why malicious hacks can find their footing in these circles. Disabling antivirus software and granting admin privileges are common steps to installing actual cheat engines—and while cheating communities keep a close eye on potential malware, it only took a bit of persistence for the makers of CoD Dropper to find enough targets to make the endeavour worthwhile.

"While this method is rather simplistic, it is ultimately a social engineering technique that leverages the willingness of its target (players that want to cheat) to voluntarily lower their security protections and ignore warnings about running potentially malicious software," Activision concludes in its report.

Despite the risks, Warzone cheating isn't going away anytime soon, and resident Warzone expert Morgan has put together a cheat-sheet on how to spot hacks and exploits on the mean streets of Verdansk—or wherever Warzone is heading next.

Natalie Clayton
Features Producer

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time, and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and a part-time game developer herself, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She also unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.