NEWS FROM THE LAB - Friday, April 16, 2010

What's a World of Warcraft account worth? Posted by Sean @ 15:14 GMT

How you given any thought to the monetary value of your virtual commodities? How much is an online game account worth?

For Hannu Ahola, it was 4,000 euros.

Marja, a contributer to F-Secure's Safe and Savvy blog, read about Hannu's case last November in the Helsinki Sanomat (in Finnish).

Hannu Ahola, http://safeandsavvy.f-secure.com/2010/04/16/dont-do-it-not-even-in-a-virtual-world/picb-2/

Marja was curious about Hannu's case, and recently, while visiting his area of Finland, she called, visited with him, and learned more of the details for herself.

The story starts about four years ago when Hannu purchased a World of Warcraft account from an acquaintance. He then invested his time and effort into the game and developed a strong character. Unfortunately for him, his success did not go unnoticed. His acquaintance decided that he wanted the WoW account back, logged in, and hijacked Hannu's character.

Now, what do you do when someone takes something from you in the virtual world?

It's quite difficult to make a criminal case from such an occurrence. But Hannu wasn't deterred, he wanted some kind of reckoning. He sought the help of Turre Legal and with the help of researcher Vili Lehdonvirta the WoW account was valued at 4000 Euros in an out of court settlement.

The lab frequently sees WoW phishing sites and password trojans, but rarely does the account holder know the other person involved, so this is a very interesting case.

World of Warcraft now reportedly has 11.5 million subscribers. At 4,000 Euros an account, that's starting to equal some real money. No wonder online games are such a popular target for online criminals.

See Safe and Savvy for Marja's post.