The gaming industry has revolutionized, and we have switched from the physical type where gamers could go to a play station to forming a team and playing games online. It can be done through mobile, PC, and game consoles. Some of the common games commonly played online include Minecraft and MMORPGs. Playing games online exposes users to more cyber security dangers, which is when cybercriminals use the opportunity to conduct their activities.
According to Newszoo, the gaming revenue will rise to $200 billion. Gamers must learn to protect themselves from security risks and maintain their privacy. How hackers work? What are different methods to keep yourself safe will significantly help you. The guide will cover several online gaming security risks and tips to avoid them.
Online Gaming Security Risks
It happens when a hacker sends you an email from a sire that looks legitimate. When you fall for the trap and submit your details, i.e., username and password for your gaming accounts, or download a game with a virus that will affect your machine. Cybercriminals can now use your details for other activities and even restrict you from accessing your accounts.
Most gamers fall for the trap, as they do not look keenly at the email details. Differentiating the emails can be challenging, but you must be keen on any links sent to your email.
2. Viruses and malware
Some games are expensive to buy and subscribe for full access. It forces some users to online and download cracked and nulled versions of the games. Hackers understand that you require free online games without paying, and they will use them to spread their virus by injecting malicious codes in the mods. There is a higher chance the game will have a virus or malware.
Once you get the antivirus warning you of the download, be cautious. Once you install the downloaded file, it will spread and even damage your existing files on your device. To some extent, you may meet ransomware, which will lock your files and ask for money to unlock your devices.
3. Social engineering
Many online game platforms have chat features, and you can meet friends who can manipulate you to send them your logins. Your fellow gamers can convince you how good you are and want to connect with you on social media platforms. They can make you click a link that can act as a group link or their said gamers group. Upon clicking, you will get all your details, which they will use to manipulate your gaming accounts and access your sensitive information like credit card details, social media logins, health insurance details, physical address, etc.
4. Weak passwords
They may require games to put their username and passwords when playing online games. Most of them use weak passwords that they can remember easily, which are prone to being hacked by cybercriminals. Hackers use different methods as if brute force attacks to guess the common passwords, access your gaming accounts, and perform various illegal malpractices, i.e., selling your account details in the darknet marketplaces.
5. Cross-site scripting
Several online games are not safe for gamers. Hackers can use malicious codes in the games; when the gamer puts their login details, they will have access to them. Most gamers who fall victim to this attack are unaware of it as it usually comes from the server end. They also access all your cookies, sessions, and personal information under your browser.
6. Use of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
DDoS happens with the aim of annoying and causing disturbance to gamers. Hackers send unlimited traffic to the gaming servers making the games offline and unavailable for the users. It goes against the server security, and it is hard for the game providers to make a recovery within a short period.
7. Data breach
Data breaches happen when cybercriminals manage to hack your game providers and publishers and have access to all the gamers’ data. They later steal the details and even the source code of the online game and list them on public sites where individuals can afford to buy the data at a cheaper price and the game at a cheaper cost.
8. Brute force attack
Brute force attack mainly targets gamers who use weak passwords like their school names, birth dates, parents’ names, etc. Hackers keep guessing your online gaming account passwords using your details until they find the right one.
It was one of the oldest ways to get users’ details, but it still works. After having access, they can steal your data, change your activity behavior, use your account to spread malware, sell your gaming details, etc.
9. Identity theft
Identity theft happens when hackers use your personal information to create profiles those later commit criminal and fraudulent activities that can lead you to problems. When playing games online as a group, fellow gamers can ask you for personal information like names, email addresses, physical locations, etc. Once they get them, they create accounts using your details, especially on social media.
They later use them to ask for donations, swindles your friends and relatives who may fall for the trap, apply for credit cards and take loans, etc. If not careful, it can even lead to your arrest and end up in jail.
How to protect your system from Online Gaming Security Risks
1. Use of Strong Passwords
Ensure all your gaming accounts have strong passwords with a minimum of 12 characters, including a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters and some symbols for added complexity. Implement multi-factor authentication on all your online gaming accounts to provide extra security after login. It requires the user to provide additional security, i.e., an OTP sent to the phone number or email address after inputting their passwords. It makes it hard for hackers to access your accounts.
2. Download and install a VPN
a virtual private network enables you to hide your location during gaming. It protects you from cyber-attacks like DDoS, which happens mostly when you are in a gaming competition, and your fellow competitors use it against you. It also keeps your data secure from any attempt of a data breach.
3. Avoid downloading mods
Most online games are expensive, especially if you like gaming and do not have a job to afford the payment. Hackers prepare mods of the same game and remove the charges, whereby you will play without paying. They install malware and viruses under the mods. Avoid dealing with mods, and if the online games require downloading them, ensure you get them from the official sites. Most gamers risk their data by downloading gaming files without doing extra research about them.
4. Companies to use dedicated gaming servers
Gaming companies should have dedicated servers to improve the gaming experience and prevent them from downtime due to DDoS attacks. They also need to set up different ways the server can block IP addresses that look malicious. It will control the traffic flow and have a good effect on eliminating any attempt to push the servers down.
5. Ensure the online games website is safe
When playing online games, ensure the site you use should have HTTPS protection meaning they have an SSL certificate installed. You can confirm by checking if there is a padlock at the beginning of the URL. If the site does not have the padlock, it means the site does lack an SSL certificate, which raises the concerns of it being fishy and prone to attacks. In the absence of an SSL certificate, then the data may be at risk. To avoid this situation, it is essential for gaming websites to buy an SSL certificate and install it on the server. Many authorized resellers offer low cost or cheap SSL certificate with the same encryption and other features.
6. Update your device
Ensure that all the devices you use for playing online games are up to date. It removes any security patches and issues that exist on your device. It also helps you from being exposed to cybersecurity vulnerabilities that would have resulted from pending updates.
7. Avoid sharing personal information
When playing online games, two known features make users share sensitive data. The game tag and chat feature, where the game ta acts as a username, and the cat feature is, where you know your fellow games through introduction. Avoid revealing more information about yourself.
Other practices include avoiding using full names in your game tags instead, using a fictional name, being careful with what you say in the chat box, and never revealing crucial details, i.e., full name, physical address, phone number, place of work, etc.
8. Download an antivirus and install it on your machine
Download and install an antivirus program for your gaming devices. It will scan your device for any potential malware or virus and take swift action by removing them. It also protects the device from third-party ads that may be used to steal your data or information, helping you keep it safe. There are freemium and paid versions of antivirus programs. Premium versions come with more security features to keep your data safe.
10. Detect phishing emails
Phishing has become one of the best ways hackers can access gamer accounts. Gamers should be able to differentiate emails that sound phishing and pretend to be from legitimate sources. Avoid opening, clicking, and replying to any email with links and attachments. Do serious research about the email and read them carefully to avoid being hacked and keep the rest of your data secure.
Online gaming has many security risks, as discussed above. You must be keen and implement the above security tips to avoid being a victim of cybercriminals. Protecting yourself will keep your data secure, save you from paying ransoms and fines, maintain your reputation, avoid being compromised, etc. Most of the practices are easier to follow and implement.