Though less often discussed than breaches of other high-profile platforms, cybersecurity looms as a large risk in the world of online gaming. Breaches can occur in a variety of ways: through infiltration of accounts on centralized buying and purchasing sites like Steam, phishing attempts to gain login and connected financial details connected to similar hubs, or distribution of malware onto personal computers.
Safety issues in online gaming also extend to many interpersonal avenues, which allow for user-to-user communication and interaction that can be taken advantage of by those with bad intentions. The online gaming experiences varies from game to game and platform to platform, but there are some general safety precautions users can take to increase their gaming protection. Most of the tips here are for PC gaming, but console users should pay attention, as well.
Use A Strong Password
Just like with any social media platform or online account, games or game-downloading platforms that offer user logins require strong passwords as a first layer of protection against infiltration. Games are often connected to sensitive identifying and financial details, and thus require this first step of security.
To help bolster account protection, use a unique password you’ve never used for any other site and won’t use again. It’s of course easier on the memory to use one across the board, but this substantially increases your vulnerability. If a hacker gains access to any other account that uses the same password, your gaming account and all sensitive information attached to it then becomes vulnerable.
Beware Of Phishing
Financial details are intimately connected to game-downloading hubs, which can leave those accounts particularly susceptible to phishing attempts, where an email disguised as being from a reputable platform asks you for identifying details — which is then used to gain access to your sensitive information. Beware of any emails asking for personal or financial information, and never give those details away.
Be Wary Of Downloads
Games often offer cheats that require additional downloads. Beware of these opportunities, as you could accidentally be downloading malware onto your computer through which intruders can gather sensitive information.
Use Antivirus Apps
Many games come with the option of anti-virus software. If this is available, you should absolutely take advantage.. While some users may be concerned that it will slow down or otherwise negatively impact the gaming experience, it’s a vital step for security. If you do make a mistake of downloading any harmful files or falling for other information-gathering tactics within your gaming activities, antivirus applications can protect you from potential ensuing harm. You should also make sure to keep these apps updated to the latest available versions.
Take Advantage Of Available Security Protocols
Because of security issues, some games and platforms have introduced extra protection options for users. For example, Steam has introduced two-factor authentication, which requires an extra code users must obtain via SMS and then enter before gaining access to their accounts. Take advantage of any such security offerings to make sure you have enabled as many options as possible for your gaming safety.
Avoid Connecting To Social Media Platforms
Certain games offer the option to connect to your social media platforms. When possible, you should avoid doing this. Connecting to social media platforms is a risk for multiple reasons: firstly, it limits your ability to disguise your identity while interacting with large numbers of strangers online. Secondly, it links your gaming activity to the sensitive details attached to your social media accounts, leaving that information more vulnerable in case of a breach.
Disguise Identifying Features
Linked social media is not the only way details about your identity can become compromised. Games often offer the option for a user photo and for user-to-user interaction. For security reasons, it’s a good idea to consider using an avatar to avoid your gaming profile being linked to your actual identity. Similarly, you should be careful what information you reveal while interacting with other game users. Don’t give away personal information like email addresses or phone numbers. For voice-to-voice interaction, you may want to consider disguising your voice through a variety of potential available means.
You should also be wary of meeting up in person with users you connect with through games, as others may misrepresent their identities and pose unknown risk.
Wipe Your Consoles
Before disposing of or passing along your console to a new user, make sure to wipe all of your saved personal information.
After years of focusing security efforts on piracy risks for video games, experts in the industry are beginning to address cybersecurity issues more aggressively. As gaming development works to create more advanced security protocols within games, users can take advantage of already-existing security options by creating strong passwords, disconnecting from social media platforms, maintaining a lid on identifying details and being wary about external downloads.