As a multi-billion-dollar industry, gaming has become a hotbed of cybercriminal activity. Hackers will try to use the information they harvest to steal accounts, commit fraud, or even harass victims worldwide.
This article will explore what gamers need to know to stay safe online. We’ll also highlight the most common threats to be aware of and simple ways to ensure your safety.
What are the most common cyber threats for gamers?
Like all cybercrime, there are many different threats facing gamers. The four most common to be aware of include:
1. Phishing attacks
Phishing is one of the most common ways of gaining access to accounts. This is when a hacker impersonates a legitimate and trustworthy person or service, tricking you into sharing personal information to crack your passcode or downloading malicious files that compromise your PC.
Hackers might send personalized in-game messages or advertise valuable game services to build rapport with gamers. Earlier this year, thousands of websites promoted fraudulent skins and currencies for Fortnite and Roblox while tricking players into entering their login details.
2. Account theft
Account theft is a devastating result of a cyberattack for gamers. It is when your login information is compromised, and the hacker freezes you from accessing your content.
They may use your account to make in-game purchases, steal private information, steal items and equipment, and compromise your progress. Hackers may also steal your identity and target other players through in-game chat and friend lists to compromise more accounts.
Account theft takes time to remedy, and if a payment method is linked, you might also be out of large sums of money relatively quickly.
Malware is any program that is malicious to your PC or device. It is another massive threat for gamers to be vigilant over. Although many malware infections occur when gamers download games from unverified sources, hackers are becoming more savvy and employing all sorts of tricks to fool gamers.
One such method is double file extensions, which disguise a malicious file as innocent using two extensions. The file’s name may contain a seemingly harmless extension, like .jpg or .txt., tricking gamers into thinking they’re downloading simple data. But the file may be an executable file that, once clicked on, will install malware tailor-made to hack your game account.
Hackers may also use personal information and account details harvested from gamers to abuse and cyberbully them. It’s a growing problem, with surveys conducted by the Anti-Defamation League showing up to 65% of gamers have experienced “severe harassment” online.
There are many methods this might come under, including:
● Doxing: Publicly revealing a gamer’s personal information, including phone numbers and other sensitive data, to humiliate and frighten them.
● Swatting: Sending hoax requests for emergency services like police or ambulances to a person’s address.
● Cyberstalking: Repeatedly using a game to send threatening messages, harass them, or intimate them.
How can gamers stay safe online?
There are many ways of protecting yourself. These include:
1. Enable multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an innovative way to protect your account. It asks you to verify your identity when logging in, usually through single-use codes sent via email or text.
MFA means that even if a hacker cracks your password, they cannot successfully log into your game account because they cannot verify their identity, thus freezing them out.
2. Monitor and review account transactions
In-game purchases are already becoming a significant part of most games. According to the Business Research Company, the microtransactions market is expected to reach over $106 billion by 2026.
Hackers can exploit these seemingly small purchases, which often fly under the radar in financial statements over long periods. Remember to check every transaction that goes through your account. Sometimes, a simple microtransaction is a test before a more significant purchase is made on your account.
3. Use stronger passwords
Passwords are a core part of cybersecurity but are often neglected or overlooked. The stronger the password, the harder it will be for your game account to be hacked.
Consider using longer passwords of at least eight characters to improve your security. Use a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers, and avoid using personal information or repeating passwords.
4. Don’t share personal information
Sometimes, gamers might unknowingly use personal information in their usernames, such as date of birth, nicknames, or location, on public profiles. This information is precious to hackers, who may use it to break your passwords or build a rapport with you to instigate a more elaborate phishing attack.
Avoid oversharing and, where possible, limit who can see your account information. Think carefully before linking any personal social media accounts to public gaming profiles.
5. Be careful downloading mods and add-ons
If you are downloading mods, ensure it’s from a verified marketplace and that the mods receive regular updates and are adequately tested to maximize your account’s security.
Last year, for example, the popular simulation game Cities: Skylines had to issue a statement when popular mods had been modified and reuploaded to the Steam Workshop, infecting thousands of players and forcing them to use more infected mods.