Playing online games and video games can be a lot of fun. They give us a chance to connect and interact with other people. Many of us enjoy playing games on gaming consoles, computers, or mobile devices. However, it’s important to be aware of the risks associated with gaming, such as malware, DDoS attacks, identity theft, and phishing attacks. Read on to find out more about these risks and how you can stay protected.
Biggest Online Gaming Risks
Hackers may use fake websites or game downloads to infect your child’s computer with harmful software like malware, ransomware, or spyware. Once hacked, scammers can monitor your children’s online activity, spy on them, or even potentially extort them.
Here are some warning signs of malware or viruses:
- Your passwords don’t work: If you are suddenly signed out of your accounts or your usual passwords are rejected, it might indicate that you have been hacked.
- Pop-ups or unfamiliar programs on your devices: If programs start unexpectedly when you turn on your computer, especially content you didn’t download, it could be a virus.
#2 Account takeover
Unfortunately, kids aren’t always knowledgeable about staying safe online. They tend to use weak passwords for multiple accounts or share them with friends. If bad actors get hold of your child’s login details, they can take control of the account. Hackers who steal passwords can make unauthorized in-game purchases, release embarrassing photos (doxxing), or pretend to be your child by sending inappropriate or scam messages to others.
#3 Phishing attacks
Hackers can trick people by sending fake emails or chat messages while playing games online. They deceive them into unknowingly downloading harmful software on their devices. These messages may look real, offering bonus content or a login page, but they are actually scams with malicious intentions.
#4 DDoS attacks
DDoS attacks occur when hackers attempt to overload gaming servers, resulting in crashes and downtime. While these attacks do not involve stealing user data, they pose a significant inconvenience to gamers. Furthermore, the downtime and recovery process can cause financial hardships for the game provider.
Cyberbullying is when someone harasses another person using digital platforms like text messages, social media, or online gaming. These bullies create fake profiles to intimidate and ruin the game for their victims. In multiplayer games, “griefers” deceive people into giving away their gaming items.
Almost 41% of gamers experience bullying offline, while 25.9% are victims of cyberbullying. This can leave young children feeling powerless, alone, and self-conscious.
Sometimes, gamers can fall victim to spyware schemes, particularly when using unreliable online gaming platforms. Spyware discreetly monitors a person’s online activities, gathering data that can then be sold to third parties, jeopardizing their privacy.
#7 Data breaches
Hackers often focus their attacks on game publishers. Once they manage to infiltrate a publisher’s systems, they can pilfer various types of data, such as source code, games, and personal information tied to user accounts. One noteworthy case is the Zynga data breach, where hackers gained access to login details like usernames, passwords, and email addresses belonging to players of Draw Something and Words With Friends. This breach impacted over 172 million accounts, making it one of the biggest data breaches ever reported.
How to Protect Yourself From Online Gaming Risks?
#1 Use a VPN
If you play games on a desktop computer, it’s important to protect your identity by hiding your location. One way to do this is by using a virtual private network or VPN. If you use a good gaming VPN, then you can protect yourself from DDoS attacks, data interception, infection with many types of viruses, phishing attacks, and account theft. For example, VeePN is able to protect against all these risks, while providing high speed. In a significant part of the cases, you will even be able to experience a performance boost.
#2 Use strong passwords
To safeguard yourself, one of the easiest methods is to use a robust password. A strong password should have a minimum of 12 characters (preferably more) and consist of a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using predictable sequences like “1234” or personal details that someone familiar with you could guess, such as your birthdate or pet’s name. Managing multiple passwords can be challenging, so employing a password manager could provide assistance.
#3 Activate multi-factor protection
If a game or distributor gives you the option, make sure to enable two-factor or multi-factor authentication. This adds an extra step to the login process, such as sending a code to your phone number or email address. By enabling this feature, you can add an extra layer of security to your game account. Some games even offer rewards in-game for players who enable it.
Online gaming can be a great way to pass the time and socialize with others. However, it’s important to understand the risks and take necessary precautions. By following the tips above, you can protect yourself from malware, DDoS attacks, identity theft, phishing attacks, cyberbullying, spyware, and data breaches. Happy gaming!