Back in the olden days, the word “gamer” specifically meant someone who frequently gambled or played dice, card games, or even tennis. It was also used to describe those who involved themselves in illegal types of games. However, this term in today’s digital world explicitly means someone addicted to video games.
Since the internet has dominated our world, video games have been no exception. Thus, online gaming became a thing. It is hard to imagine playing games without being on the internet today. This fascinating technological advancement has allowed gamers to connect and given them a space to express themselves without judgment.
However, all of these fantastic perks were encountered by the unfortunate attacks of cyber criminals. After all, online gaming has become a new target for cybercrime, especially since most gamers, particularly the younger ones, barely pay attention to the significance of cybersecurity. No one wants to be occupied by the risks that come with online gaming but just wants to enjoy their time worry-free.
How Can Online Gaming Be Dangerous?
Online gaming is a great way to escape reality and be immersed in a fantasy world where only great things happen. It is also an ideal space for introverts who would enjoy their time stimulating their brains all by themselves. However, cybercriminals have a completely different view of online games; they make excellent targets for their malicious attacks.
The primary purpose of any cybercrime is financial theft, and that’s the most common, stealing identity or account. For malevolent attackers, online gaming is an excellent platform for malicious intent. They can either steal, overtake, threaten or dox you through the information on your console.
Here are the risks that come with gaming on the internet:
Overtaking Highly-Ranked Accounts
Online gamers tend to achieve a lot in their video games, winning more than a few trophies and ranking high among other gaming accounts. Such virtual achievements can provide a sense of satisfaction and confidence. However, it also makes you a big target for hackers and online criminals.
Highly-ranked accounts in a specific video game can be worth billions. They manage to take hold of high profiles by hijacking one’s credentials. Using the same passwords and usernames across different gaming platforms jeopardises your security and makes you an easier target.
Hacking your profile could also mean stealing your personal information and selling it online. Other hackers tend to steal confidential info to blackmail you for a ransom or use it to dox you over different social media platforms by sharing personal data about the victim.
Financial Information Theft
Another reason that makes gaming on the internet dangerous is the online purchase of games. This leaves your financial information out on the internet. Thus, the attackers try to steal this information for their interest.
With the advancement of online games, online purchases have become more on the rise than ever. Games have sequels and add-ons that require online payment to proceed with your game. Gamers barely think to pay attention to the dangers of adding their credit card information online.
Spread of Malicious Viruses
Spreading malware is a major purpose of every hacker. They use viruses and other malware types to get access to your accounts. This process gets more manageable if you happen to download games illegally. Also, getting purchases from third-party sellers for lower prices can get you in real trouble.
Another method that can lead to malware downloads is by downloading free games. Thus, purchasing your games from trusted sources or networks is always essential, even if it costs more. Some lower prices could be tempting, but the consequences can be dangerous.
While stealing your financial information sits on top of the high risks of online gaming, it can also lead to identity theft. Hackers can steal personal data like your social security number (SSN) or address to stalk you.
Hacking can sometimes be personal. There might be someone out there who knows about your addiction to online gaming and wants to use it to bully you. Cyberbullying is one of the most common malicious acts in the digital world.
Cyberbullying can be anything from online stalking to sharing confidential information or private pictures. Cybercriminals exploit the flaws of online gaming to carry out such malevolence.
6 Ways to Give a Wide Berth to the Dangers of Online Gaming
If you have an online presence and love to spend your time in the fantasy world of games, you should be aware that you, like any other gamer, are a massive target of cyber criminals. There is no way you would stop gaming or even disconnect from the internet to stay safe. Gladly, several cybersecurity parameters can slam the door shut in the face of hackers:
1. Use Strong Passwords
Your choice of passwords goes a long way in keeping you safe online. Many people use their names or birthdates for their passwords, making them easier to remember. If you fall into this category, this is your wake-up call; change your passwords immediately. This makes it easier for hackers to break into your account with a simple guessing game.
However, guessing is not their way of stealing credentials. They have a whole data stolen online, encompassing several passwords, and yours could be there. The safest way to protect your password is to use both upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols that only you can remember.
2. Update Your Software Regularly
When your console flashes the reminder notification to update your software, do it immediately. It is tempting just to dismiss the message and keep going with your game, but this way, you’re putting yourself in real jeopardy.
Online gaming has the very same rules as being on the internet. Older software programs have flaws and bugs that pave the way for hackers to find their way into your system. Regular updates are meant to fix these errors and install sturdier protection, so keep your console up to date.
3. Never Share Personal Information
Online gaming is a platform for socialising for almost every gamer. It is a great place to meet people with the same interest and develop virtual friendships. However, it also happens to be where scammers freely roam around, trying to force personal information out of you to use them for their malevolent intents.
No matter how close you think you got to someone, always fight the urge to share confidential information about yourself. Never share your passwords, home address, Social Security Number (SSN), or anything of that sort. You don’t know the reality of the person on the other end of your headphones.
4. Avoid Downloading From Untrusted Sources
Sometimes we feel eager to try out many new games, but the pricing doesn’t seem convenient. This could urge many online gaming addicts to resort to cheaper or accessible sources, risking their online safety.
One of the ways that hackers use to spread malware into your system and break into it is through fake links or attachments. Never download a game or cheat code list from third-party sellers or unknown sources. Also, avoid downloading games illegally, which acts like a backdoor for many cybercriminals.
5. Delete Personal Info From Your Device
Although this tip seems as clear as daylight, many people still fall short in applying it. When your old console breaks or it is time for an upgrade, don’t let your enthusiasm for using the new console make you mindlessly throw away your old device. That device is full of information about you that can be easily stolen.
Instead, make sure you safely dispose of your old console. Reset it to erase all the information on it. If it is broken and not working, reach out to a technician you trust who can help you with this. Only then can you enjoy a safe online gaming journey on your new device without having to worry about the old one.
6. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
VPN is essential when you are constantly online and need an extra layer of cyber protection. This is especially true if you happen to use public internet connection regularly. However, many gamers are not aware that VPN can also be essential for online gaming, especially for online freaks.
Swatting is one of the things you need to protect yourself from. Although it doesn’t happen that often, there is still a chance that you encounter a pity gamer who starts stalking you for whatever reason. VPNs also provide excellent internet connection security, blocking hackers from seeing your IP address or online activity.
It is easy just to let go and want to enjoy your online gaming adventure without having to apply that many measures or think about the dangers. However, paying attention to cybersecurity is your first and foremost step in enjoying games with no worries.