Over the past few decades, online gaming has steadily grown to become one of the most popular forms of entertainment around the world. It’s now a billion-dollar industry and one we can’t imagine living without.
Every year the games get better, the internet gets faster, and PCs get more powerful. But as the gaming industry gets more and more sophisticated and ever-increasing numbers of people start gaming, the risks grow too.
In this post, we’re going to tell you how you can stay safe when gaming online, and how you can avoid being the target of hackers, script kiddies, and other threats that can really ruin your day—not to mention your PC.
Common Threats In Online Gaming
Here are 6 common threats while online gaming.
Viruses and malware have been around for a long time, and gamers have become very accustomed to having some form of anti-malware protection.
The risk of downloading malware and spyware is increasing. This is exacerbated by laid-back, negligent attitudes and measures taken by everyday gamers.
A common source of malware infection comes from downloading games, files, and software from unknown third-party game sites and distributors, and clicking on dubious links in chats and forums.
Malware and spyware such as keyloggers are commonly used by cybercriminals to steal information and gain access to accounts and devices.
A major issue arising from lax attitudes about security is making it easy for hackers to gain access to gaming and social media accounts. There’s an unfortunate but common trend of gamers using the same username and easy-to-hack password for the majority of their online accounts.
Hackers gaining access can gather a gamer’s information or even use your accounts for their own purposes. If you’ve used a credit card for in-game purchases or on platforms like Steam, they can easily steal your details here too.
Swatting & Doxing
Among the many issues that arise from account hacking are the troubling new trends commonly known as “swatting” and “doxing”.
These serious and dangerous cyber crimes are often connected to vendettas and conflicts arising between online gamers and in gaming communities.
Swatting involves reporting a fake emergency at a targeted gamer’s premises, causing police or emergency services to be unnecessarily mobilized, sometimes leading to needless and tragic events. A call out like this can cost you a small fortune, especially if you cannot prove that you didn’t request emergency assistance.
Doxxing is the sharing of a targeted individual’s personal information over the internet, usually for the purpose of harassment. It’s a reckless and potentially highly damaging new form of cyberbullying that’s spiked in popularity recently and it can expose you to identity theft and other nasty consequences.
Online bullying and harassment have been an ongoing, complicated issue. This type of bullying doesn’t only affect gamers, it targets developers and the game studios too. It ranges from general bullies, griefers, and trolls to the above-mentioned swatting and doxing.
One of the most alarming sides of online games is the potential for anonymous online predators to lure children into engaging in friendship and then meeting them offline. While most gaming platforms have measures to prevent this, it remains a serious issue that all parents need to be aware of.
Bing on comms is part of gaming, but how often do you forget to turn off your mic? So many games forget to turn off their mics, cameras, or screen capture when they’re not in use. This leads to the potential for strangers to gather personal information and to use it to their advantage—and your disadvantage.
Steps For Protection In Online Gaming
Staying safe online takes a little effort and know-how, and these simple steps go a long way towards upping your security.
Use Strong Passwords
Strong, unique passwords that are at least eight digits long and contain the recommended variation of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols are the simplest way of securing your data online.
Generally, the longer they are, the better. Use unique passwords for all your accounts, and change them from time to time. Various password-protection software is also available online, though it’s recommended you do some thorough research before using it.
Only Download From Reputable Sources
Treat all third-party add-ons, mods, patches, and games as untrustworthy unless they come from reputable accredited sites, platforms, or vendors. If it’s free or looks too good to be true, it is.
Avoid Clicking On Suspicious Links
Avoid clicking on links provided by strangers in chat groups and online forums.
Protect Your Personal Information
- Avoid sharing your personal information online whenever possible.
- Don’t use your real name or surname, share your phone number, address, bank details, or any information about your home, family, neighbors, or even your local neighborhood.
- Don’t leave your microphone, camera, or video capture running when not in use.
- If you stream, try to keep anything that may be used to identify you, your location, or gain access to your accounts, out of view.
- Don’t keep your passwords in plain view, or preferably even stored on your PC, unless you have password protection. Rather, store them on a separate device such as a USB stick, or in a notebook that you keep well hidden.
Keep Your Malware Protection, Games, Apps, & Hardware Up-To-Date
It’s important to make sure that your anti-malware software is up-to-date, providing real-time protection, and that you do regular scans of your PC.
Additionally, make sure that all your games and game-related software and apps, as well as the firmware of your hardware and equipment are updated. This is often necessary, as various new online security concerns arise over time.
Online threats are everywhere you look. They’re an ongoing issue in every sector, from the business world to gaming, and will likely continue for the foreseeable future.
Whether you’re a professional or casual gamer, it’s now more important than ever to be aware and stay updated, and to take the necessary precautions when gaming online. Cyber safety is something we all need to focus on, and it’s not that hard if you know how.
Have any questions? Comments? Leave them below!