PayPal move blocks sales of school shooting video game

"Active Shooter" is branded as a "SWAT simulator" that lets players choose between being an active shooter terrorizing a school or the SWAT team. (YouTube/AP)
Updated 20 June 2018
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PayPal move blocks sales of school shooting video game

  • Acid Software said Tuesday that purchases of "Active Shooter" were "temporarily disabled"
  • Acid recently set up two websites for "Active Shooter" after the game was removed from the webpages of video game marketplace Steam and crowdfunding site Indiegogo

HARTFORD, Conn: The developer of a school shooting video game condemned by parents of slain children has lost the ability to sell its products online after being dumped by PayPal.
Acid Software said Tuesday that purchases of "Active Shooter" were "temporarily disabled" as its representatives tried to resolve the issues with PayPal. Acid's postings on Twitter and an online bulletin board included the hashtags "QuitCensoringUs," ''FreedomOfExpression" and "WeWillBeBack."
PayPal confirmed it closed the account.
"PayPal has a longstanding, well-defined and consistently enforced Acceptable Use Policy, and regardless of the individual or organization in question, we work to ensure that our services are not used to accept payments for activities that promote violence," the company, based in San Jose, California, said in a statement Wednesday.
"Active Shooter" is branded as a "SWAT simulator" that lets players choose between being an active shooter terrorizing a school or the SWAT team responding to the shooting. Players can choose a gun, grenade or knife, and civilian and police death totals are shown on the screen. Acid was selling an early version of the game online for $20 and plans to release a new version early next month.
Acid recently set up two websites for "Active Shooter" after the game was removed from the webpages of video game marketplace Steam and crowdfunding site Indiegogo. The removals followed complaints and online petitions by anti-gun violence advocates including parents of children killed in school shootings in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and staff died in February, and Newtown, Connecticut, where 26 children and staff died in 2012.
A company that hosted the new websites removed them last week after receiving similar complaints. But Acid got the sites back up and running by switching to Russian servers, said an Acid representative, Ata Berdyev, of Seattle.
"Active Shooter" was created by Anton Makarevskiy, a 21-year-old developer from Moscow, Russia, and is being marketed by his entity Acid Software. Berdyev is helping Makarevskiy promote the game.
Berdyev said Wednesday that the future of the game could now be in doubt.
"Seems like everyone in US trying to censor us, whilst not explaining what exactly we are violating," Berdyev said in a message to The Associated Press.


Saudi Arabia in the crosshairs as cyber-raids target Gulf

More than 90 percent of malware is distributed by email with hackers seeking to trick users with fake invoices and other scams. (Shutterstock)
Updated 15 February 2019
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Saudi Arabia in the crosshairs as cyber-raids target Gulf

  • Cyberattacks were ranked as the second most important risk after an “energy shock” in these three Gulf states, according to the WEF’s flagship Global Risks Report 2019
  • Criminal phishing attacks rising sharply, cybersecurity experts warn

RIYADH: Online phishing attacks are on the rise with experts warning of increasing numbers of cyber-raids targeting Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.
Phishing is a type of fraud where criminals target online victims, using deception to acquire users’ credentials, ranging from passwords to credit card and bank account details, and other financially sensitive information.
Cybersecurity experts say the numbers of attacks worldwide have risen dramatically, increasing from over 2 million in the first two weeks of February last year to more than 4.3 million in the same period this year.
Mohammed Khurram Khan, a professor of cybersecurity at King Saud University (KSU), told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia, due to its strong position in political, social and economic spheres, has been a key target for cyber-intrusions by state and nonstate actors aiming to compromise its national security.
“Various types of malware and scams, especially phishing, are used to target critical information infrastructure, which serve as the backbone of the economy,” he said.
More than 90 percent of malware is distributed by email with hackers seeking to trick users with fake invoices and other scams, said Khan, who is also the founder and CEO of the Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research, a Washington-based cybersecurity think tank.
“Computer users in Saudi Arabia have been confronted with more than 30 million phishing emails in recent years,” he said.
Khan said that awareness, training and “cyber-hygiene” were important to protect users and organizations from phishing scams.
KSU has developed a pioneering cybersecurity awareness product, “Rawam,” which helps organizations train employees to deal with malicious hacking, malware, ransomware, phishing and cyberattacks.
The bilingual tool has been used to train 100,000 staff in 40 different organizations, he said.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) last month warned of the growing likelihood of cyberattacks in the Gulf, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar particularly vulnerable.
Cyberattacks were ranked as the second most important risk after an “energy shock” in these three Gulf states, according to the WEF’s flagship Global Risks Report 2019, released ahead of the annual forum in Davos.
Cybersecurity experts from the Kaspersky Lab, a multinational digital security provider, detected a sharp increase in phishing activities on the eve of the Valentine’s Day.
The overall number of user attempts to visit fraudulent websites detected and blocked by Kaspersky Lab in the first half of February exceeded 4.3 million.
“The spike offers a reminder that we should be cautious when surfing the web, even if we are just buying flowers for our loved one,” said Andrey Kostin, a senior web content analyst.