Durban - Forget being robbed at an ATM, or held up at a traffic intersection – criminals are now trying to get hold of your cash while you play games online.

According to a report by anti-virus software developer Kaspersky, which monitored its product users, 7 000 attempts to attack gamers and gain access to their personal information take place across the globe each day.

Most of the attempted pilfering consisted of trying to gain access to passwords for internet banking and gamer profiles.

Where the latter is concerned, cyber-criminals are now venturing into the theft of avatars (virtual representations of the gamer) and in-game items which can then be sold – for cash – to other gamers.

According to Arthur Goldstuck, head of the internet research firm World Wide Worx, online crime is prevalent in South Africa.

The absence or insufficiency of internet users’ counter-measures in the case of a digital attack made the problem worse.

“We have found that a high proportion (one third) of small businesses and more than half of regular consumers have no protection,” he said, referring to recent research he had conducted.

Another major problem, Goldstuck said, was the lack of common sense displayed by those who went online.

“The biggest issue is people being stupid,” he said.

There were still those who clicked on a link to access their bank account or responded to e-mail saying they had won a lot of money.

He advised internet users to download free antivirus software and to keep it constantly updated, as well as never to access online banking from anywhere but the dedicated channels offered by the bank. - The Mercury