AROUND 50,000 Minecraft players have been exposed to a computer virus that wipes a machine's hard drive and deletes backup data and programs.
The malicious software is attached to the downloadable “skins” that can change the look of a player's character in the game.
These add-ons are available on the Minecraft website, potentially putting the game's entire user base of 74million players in harm's way.
Cyber-security software-maker Avast told The Sun that it's been in touch with Minecraft developer Mojang, and is working to fix the exploit.
The company says it blocked 14,500 infection attempts in the last ten days alone.
Avast notes that Minecraft's largest demographic of 15 to 21-year-old players (who account for 43 per cent of its user base) are particularly susceptible to the hack.
“The bad actors may have looked to capitalize on a more vulnerable group of unsuspecting users that play a game trusted by parents and guardians,” said the company.
We've reached out to Mojang with questions concerning the nature of the attack, and how long the company was aware of it. We will update this article with its response.
Users can spot and evade the virus in a number of ways.
Firstly, don't download any Minecraft skins from the game's website until the threat is dealt with. Three of the dodgy outfits can be seen above.
Users may also get unusual, sweary messages in their Minecraft account inbox. Some of the identified examples include:
“You Are Nailed, Buy A New Computer This Is A Piece Of S***.”
“You have maxed your internet usage for a lifetime.”
“Your a** got glued.”
And you may have also been affected if you notice your computer suddenly started playing up or you get an error message related to disk formatting.
To keep yourself protected, Avast recommends scanning your machine with an antivirus software that will detect the malicious files and remove them.
In some cases, you may even have to re-install Minecraft.
And in more extreme circumstances, where your machine has already been infected with the malware, data restoration is recommended.