Habbo Hotel sounds alarm on real theft of virtual furniture

November 15, 2007 Sophos Press Release

The teenagers are suspected of stealing items from players of Habbo Hotel
The teenagers are suspected of stealing items from players of Habbo Hotel.

According to media reports, Dutch police have arrested a seventeen-year-old teenager for stealing almost $6000 worth of virtual furniture from users of the Habbo Hotel, a chat room and gaming website aimed at teenagers. Five other teenagers have also been questioned by police.

The site's owner, Sulake, told reporters that the group created fake Habbo websites and lured players into visiting them. Usernames and passwords were recorded from these fake sites and used to break into the real Habbo accounts to steal the virtual furniture from the victims.

Habbo Hotel's virtual furniture, known as "furni" by the site's members, are purchased with credits by the players and traded in the community to furnish the virtual hotel rooms. The credits are purchased by members with real currency.

"Stealing virtual items might seem petty to some, but it is pure theft when you consider that they have been purchased with real money," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos. "Reports suggests that the teens used phishing tactics to get the username and passwords, which highlights the need for better user education in the gaming community. Sophos applauds the efforts of the Dutch police for treating this case seriously and setting the example that theft, whether in a virtual or real world, will not go unpunished."

This is not the first time that online gamers and residents of virtual worlds have suffered attacks on their usernames and passwords. Last year, Sophos reported that 45% of Chinese malware aimed to steal online gaming login information.

Sophos reminds readers that passwords are an important part of overall computer security. A Sophos web poll last year revealed that a staggering 40% of computer users use the same password for all online activities.

Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can control network access and defend against the threats of spam, hackers, spyware and viruses.