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The online gaming industry has seen massive growth in the last decade. Sales and participation have increased each year, leading to more people playing online than ever.
Gaming servers have become more secure and provide a safer place than they once did for players. However, hackers and other predators continue to find ways to attack unsuspecting gamers.
Cybersecurity is an important part of gaming for pros and amateurs alike. Though computer savvy, many users neglect to acknowledge the risks associated with online gaming.
The best gamers practice diligence by protecting themselves from the various threats found online. Read on to see the types of dangers to look out for and some ways to protect yourself and your information.
Methods Used to Steal Information
There are many potential attacks to be aware of while playing games online. Some are old techniques, while others are sophisticated attacks on fellow gamers.
- Malware: This type of infiltration is often set into motion by generating fake applications and peddling them on third-party sites. Once downloaded and installed, malware can run silently in the background and wreak havoc.
- Phishing: Phishing emails have long been a threat to personal and business computers. Now, some hackers are setting up websites that sound similar to legitimate gaming portals. Once a user attempts to log in at the phishing site, their credentials are stolen, and their account is vulnerable to theft or misuse.
Phishing can also impact the games themselves. There have been instances of gaming companies like Ubisoft falling victim to spear-phishing and allowing the infiltration of their servers, including user account data. The types of data breaches can lead to player accounts being stolen and sold to the highest bidder.
- Survey Scamming: Similar to phishing, survey scamming is a method as old as the internet. These techniques range from fake surveys to garner email addresses to convincing people to download malicious files.
Real-Life Threats Are Present in Online Gaming Worlds
Not all attacks lead to the simple inconvenience of losing a game or having to create a new account. There are several threats that can impact the lives of players outside of the digital world.
- Cyberbullying: Online bullying has become a massive problem that extends outside of the gaming world. Bullies tend to hang out in chat rooms or around games that allow for in-game conversations.
Bullying has led to disastrous outcomes for many individuals, and online bullying can be just as devastating to the confidence of young people as it is in real life.
- Swatting: This act of identifying a gamer’s location and calling in a fictitious emergency situation at their home is dangerous. Some hackers can use the IP address of a player to figure out where they live and carry out this tactic.
- Physical Stalking: A game that uses augmented reality (AR), like Pokémon Go, can present a unique danger to its players. These games can allow players to be stalked or coerced to a specific location where a stalker could be waiting.
How to Protect Yourself from These Dangers
The risks are clear. They can lead to a negative impact on your finances and privacy. It is important to consider techniques to protect yourself while enjoying your games.
Take the time to initiate some, or all, of these safety precautions before logging in to your online games again.
- Investigate the Game First: Take note of how the game works. Determine what security protocols are in place and how the game protects users’ privacy.
- Use 2FA or MFA: Many web-based game launchers offer the protection of multi-factor authentication. 2FA or MFA requires a secondary code, usually sent to your mobile device, to be entered along with your password. Take advantage of this to protect your account from being easily stolen.
- Stay up to Date: If an update is available, install it. From firmware to software, all updates should be installed as soon as they come available. This helps developers ensure your safety through patches and bug fixes.
- Use a VPN: A VPN can protect your personal information by encrypting any data you send or receive to the gaming server. It can also keep your location private by anonymizing your IP address – eliminating the threat of physical stalking or swatting.
- Use Unique Passwords: Password management apps and programs make this task much easier and eliminate excuses for using one password on all of your accounts. Never use the same password for gaming that you do for protected information like banking or email.
- Be Secretive: No game is worth putting all of your private details out there for the world to see. Make sure your profile is discreet and limits the amount of your personal information visible to others.
Online gaming should only be fun. There are risks involved, but most can be avoided with proper care. Be aware of the dangers and practice the safety measures above to enjoy your gaming experience fully.