Hyper-competitive online gaming has led to a ready market for cheats. But security experts warn that the skills involved with crafting cheats can easily by used for developing and selling malware.
It's an environment where having the slightest edge over an opponent can be the difference between winning and losing, which means cheating is often an unfortunate part of many sports.
And the rise of online gaming means that the underhand behaviour that so often has undermined real-world sporting competitions has been extended into the digital world, too.
There's now enough demand for cheats that there is a lucrative marketplace dedicated to helping gamers gain an unfair edge.
"This is a multi-million dollar industry. Many of these websites sell a subscription model and it ranges from $10 to $100 and some can cost over $500 for an elite cheat," says Santiago Pontiroli, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, who started investigating malware-like cheats in video games after getting fed up with hackers in online matches.
The 'as-a-service' model for cheats might sound familiar, because it's a common business model for selling malware on dark web underground forums; subscription services keep the money rolling in for the malware authors, while also providing updates and new services to users. [....]