Gaming has risen in popularity over the past few decades because of increased accessibility to gaming devices and a wide range of games to choose from.
According to one study, an overwhelming 70% of all families have at least one child who plays video games. These staggering numbers show just how popular gaming has become. So, where does cybersecurity come in, and why is it important?
While the gaming industry has seen an explosion in the number of players, it has also seen an increase in crime and fraud-related cases. Cybercriminals, bullies, and online predators have become a disruptive and dangerous feature of online gaming today.
What’s most concerning is that malicious players are not simply mean to other gamers but also have the ability to plant malware, spyware, or viruses to steal sensitive data, including financial information, credit card numbers, and physical locations.
To prevent this from happening to you, take a look at some of the best cybersecurity practices in online gaming and how you can protect yourself and your account.
Revisit Your Passwords and Make Sure They’re Strong
You might be tired of hiring this, but the need for strong passwords needs to be emphatically restated. Passwords are your first line of defense when it comes to online security. As a rule of thumb, remember that the more complicated your password is, the more secure your gaming account will be.
This means changing your current password. Be sure to avoid obvious passwords that involve your dog’s, street’s, or car’s name. It also means staying away from 123456 as your password. Although this sounds too obvious, you’d be surprised how many people use such weak passwords.
According to one survey, one of the most common passwords in 2016 was 123456, with more than 23 million people using it. Another survey found that 53% of people in the US re-use the same passwords for multiple accounts.
You’ll have a pretty strong password if it’s at least 12 characters long, with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and characters. However, we recommend using a password generator that typically comes with most modern-day keyboards. It’s also important to use different passwords for different accounts and to update them regularly.
Enable a Multi-Factor Authentication System
In today’s gaming world, hackers are coming up with new and creative ways to exploit online accounts. But having an extra layer of security goes a long way in protecting your account and keeping your data safe.
And that’s precisely what multi-factor authentication is. It’s a security process that requires more than one form of authentication to grant access to an account. Instead of relying solely on a password, MFA systems require users to provide additional information, such as a fingerprint scan or a code sent to their phone, to prove their identity.
But you might be wondering, “Why do I need MFA for my online gaming account?” Well, gaming accounts can be particularly vulnerable to attacks, especially if you have a lot of valuable in-game items or currency.
Hackers often target gaming accounts to steal virtual items that can be sold for real money on the black market. In some cases, they might even try to gain access to your personal information or payment details.
Be Careful About What You Share Online
You’d be surprised how many people overshare when playing online. But you need to be very careful of what you decide to share online because you never know who’s watching or listening. This includes your real name, where you’re from, or any other personal information.
The thing is, you could easily find yourself sharing this information, as you can accidentally let something slip while you’re in the middle of a heated contest. Even while replying to queries on online gaming forums, be extremely cautious of what you share. Make sure your username doesn’t give away your real name or location.
Speaking of location, you can use a VPN to disguise your IP address and stop malicious cybercriminals from gaining access to your gaming device, whether a console or PC. VPNs disguise your location, effectively protecting you from online predators. If you choose one that will fit your device’s OS, whether it’s Windows, Mac, or any other operating system, it will be a seamless experience.
Take Time to Learn About Phishing Techniques
Phishing is one of the most common ways that cybercriminals try to steal personal information from unsuspecting gamers. It’s a type of online scam where attackers try to trick you into giving away sensitive information such as your login credentials or credit card numbers.
They often pose as legitimate companies or individuals, like game developers or administrators, to gain your trust and manipulate you into clicking on a malicious link or downloading an attachment.
To protect yourself from phishing attacks during online gaming, you first need to start by familiarizing yourself with some of these scams. Learn to spot the signs of a typical phishing attempt. Some common red flags include unsolicited emails or messages that ask for personal information or contain suspicious links.
Only Download Games From Reputable Sources
We get it, third-party sources, cheat codes, and cracked games are all appealing because of how cheap and accessible they are. But the consequences you could suffer usually outweigh the benefits.
Downloading games from unreliable sources can put you at risk of accidentally installing malicious software that can harm your device and allow predators to steal your sensitive information.
These sources may include sketchy websites or peer-to-peer file-sharing networks that offer cheap or entirely free games. While it may seem like a good deal, you could be exposing yourself to serious danger.
Online gaming is extremely enjoyable, partly because you get to play with a wide pool of players from all around the world. However, this also brings with it a lot of unwanted attraction from online predators who want to steal your sensitive information or your money.
Cybersecurity measures should be at the very top of your mind when dealing with online gaming communities or gaming lobbies. Don’t share your private information, including your real name, credit card information, location, or any other sensitive information that’s personal to you.
Other measures you should consider adopting include using strong passwords, downloading games from reputable sources/markets, learning about phishing techniques, and enabling multi-factor authentication. With these measures, you can grab your mouse or controller pad and enjoy your favorite online game without fear.