The video game industry is blowing up in 2021. In 2016 it was forecasted to be worth $90 billion in 2020, but the reality is that it was actually worth almost 160 billion dollars. These numbers have caught the attention of many interested parties, not the least of which is cybercriminals.
The pace at which gaming companies and individual gamers are being targeted is worrisome. One cybersecurity company noted that in April 2020, cybercrimes jumped 54% from January of the same year.
What Can Go Wrong in Video Gaming Security?
Gamers will want to take action and identify the risk factors before they implement the necessary safety precautions. Here are some of the possible threats to your gaming safety.
Distributed-Denial-of-Service is a method where criminals flood traffic to a server, network, or website. The goal is to cap out network resources with the intent of weakening security. If a service or website isn’t working properly, cybercriminals will seize the opportunity to attack while their opponent is low.
By its own definition, cheating is when a player benefits from a dishonest action. In video gaming, this area can be in the grey zone.
Some game developers have created their own cheat codes to keep players interested in their games. They realize some players may want to change the format to play the game a different way. The argument could be made that this isn’t really cheating but is just an extension of the original game.
Another type of cheat is also referred to as a hack. This is where the game code has been changed to give a player an unfair advantage. These hacks are often downloaded from 3rd party software.
The danger with these hacks is that the player doesn’t know if anything else is tagging along with the download. You may think you are getting a game advantage but, in fact, are giving computer access to a cybercriminal. There is no way to guarantee 100% that a cheat download is not a threat.
Account Takeover Attacks happen when a cybercriminal collects personal information with the intent to log in and take over an account. Personal information can be found on the dark web, but surprisingly, much of the information necessary to hack your account can be found on your social media accounts.
Identity thieves look for tombstone information such as your birthdate, address, full name, and any other personal identifier they can find. Take a look at your social media accounts with this in mind. Do you have your social media set to remind your friends of your birthday each year? Did you post a photo of your last plane ticket purchase showing your passport number and full legal name?
Information can be gathered from different sources and then combined to access your accounts to make purchases, use loyalty points, or sign up for credit cards. Be careful with your personal information. Remember, not everyone on your social media has your best interests at heart.
Gaming apps purchased on your mobile phone can surprisingly include malware. Some may think they are safe from malware threats because they don’t purchase from 3rd party websites. Mobile malware has shown up in many official mobile app stores, meaning it had gotten past comprehensive malware detection.
How to Stay Safe While Gaming?
Despite the aforementioned threats, it is possible to game safely. There are some positive actions you can take to ensure you follow the best cybersecurity procedures.
Passwords should be unique identifiers, including upper and lower case capitalization, numbers, and symbols. Cybercriminals sometimes use programs that run through all known words, so consider using something that is not found in a dictionary.
Consider using a different password for all of your gaming accounts. This ensures if one console or website is hacked, your other devices aren’t also at risk.
Don’t Open That!
While phishing attacks are largely attributed to emails, phishing through gaming is on the rise. Hackers may create copies of popular apps or spoof your favorite gaming site. Be cautious of re-entering your password on clicking on suspicious links.
This easy-to-implement solution provides an extra layer of security while gaming online. It requires the user to have two or more different methods of verifying the user’s identity, making it more difficult for a hacker to access your accounts.
A Virtual Private Network for gaming may not be essential, but it is definitely recommended. It will protect you from many of the online security threats referred to in this article. On a side note, while not a security issue per se, VPN service will also allow you to get around geographical restrictions as well as office or school IT restrictions on gameplay.
Beating the Boss
With gaming security concerns identified and the fixes presented, you can review your gaming protocols. Ensure your cybersecurity prevention game is at its best. This will allow you to relax and focus on being the epic gamer you know you can be.