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Hackers target World of Warcraft accounts

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(Credit: Blizzard)

Malicious tomfoolery is afoot in Azeroth.

Blizzard Entertainment has issued a warning to World of Warcraft players, noting that the number of unauthorized logins has been on the rise recently, a sign that hackers are targeting player accounts and stealing their in-game gold.

"There’s been a recent increase in unauthorized World of Warcraft account-logins via our website and the World of Warcraft mobile armory app," the company said. "We’re in the process of notifying any account holders who were not using an authenticator and whose account showed signs of unauthorized access (e.g., logging in from an unusual IP address). If you are among this group, you will receive an email describing how to reset your account."

The issue has led Blizzard to suspend access to the World of Warcraft auction house via the game's mobile app, though it's still accessible in-game as well as through the game's website. Customers who were affected can contact customer support and have their in-game items and gold restored to their account.

Reports about the hacking started to come in on June 22. Users noted large sums of their private gold reserves were being spent on overpriced (and largely useless) items in the auction house. This is a known method of laundering stolen gold.

Some users saw it happen in real time.

"This just happened to my account tonight, while I was logged in," said user Triginhil, who plays a Dwarf Warrior in the game. "I felt my phone vibrate so I took it out to see what it was. Somehow, magically my Mobile Armory app had been opened. ... In the time it took me to manually log off the mobile armory, someone had purchased Simple Wood from the AH using the mobile armory, taking me for all my gold."

This is the second notable incident Blizzard has had with its auction houses this year. Last month, a programming bug let some Diablo III players duplicate their in-game gold, resulting in inflated prices in the game's auction house (which uses real world money).

Blizzard patched the loophole, but not before 415 players took advantage of it. While 85% of the excess gold was recaptured, some fans feared that the remaining amounts could still result in artificially high pricing for in-game items.

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