Teens fans of the online video game Fortnite have been making “thousands of pounds” in what the BBC described as a “global hacking network” built around the game. The ‘army’ of hackers, some of whom are as young as 14, have been hacking into and stealing private gaming accounts from other players, before reselling them online.
With more than 200 million players, Fortnite is free to play. But the game makes money through selling “skins” that allow players to change the outfits and appearances of their characters. Skins are so popular that it's estimated the game's developer, Epic, has made around £1 billion by selling them.
But, according to the BBC, which spoke to around 20 teen Fortnite hackers, accounts containing lucrative skins and character profiles can make money in return. They have been stealing accounts and selling them, making anywhere in between 25p and hundreds of pounds per profile.
But all is not going totally as the young hackers hoped.
The BBC reports that some have been attacked in return, with counter-hackers enabling two-factor authentication on accounts to block other users out.
One anonymous UK-based hacker, who began stealing accounts aged 14 and made £1,500 in his first few weeks, is a user who went from hacker to victim.
“My password had been changed and two-factor authentication had been added by someone else,” said the user, who had spent £50 of his own money on his account. “It felt horrible.”
While it’s obviously a great hustle, hacking others’ accounts is illegal, and exploits others. Some internet users are also questioning the security of online platforms. As one IT specialist said on Twitter: “It makes you wonder if these kids are able to hack a global platform, how easy must it be for a professional to get access to business platforms.”