There are over 2.2 billion gamers in the world. We can play games on our PCs, consoles, and even smartphones. The video game industry worldwide generates $135 billion in revenue annually. While cinema, for example, generates just $38 billion. With such a huge marketplace, it’s no surprise that cyber thieves target gamers. Here are five of the top threats that all gamers need to be aware of so they can protect themselves online.
1) Network Security Flaws
Some of the biggest threats to gamers don’t come directly from games, platforms, or other connected apps and services. Instead, they can arise from security vulnerabilities from when you connect to the internet. For example, hackers often target public Wi-Fi networks because they don’t have strong security protocols.
From here, they can track IP addresses and other network connections back to individual users. This makes gamers vulnerable to DDoS attacks, as well as phishing attempts. To get a sense of how easy it is to figure it out, just enter “what is my IP” into your search engine. It pops up in seconds.
2) Game Cracks
Nothing is more tempting to an online gamer than a free game crack. Games are expensive, so when you see major titles like Call of Duty or Fortnite offered for free, it’s tempting to go for it. Oftentimes, these downloads may be available via torrenting or once again through a friendly fellow gamer online. In many cases, the crack may work.
However, it will just as often contain malicious pieces of code. For example, one of the most common pieces of malware currently is an implant that hackers use to mine cryptocurrency. In this case, you may notice an incredible decrease in computer performance as the mining will hog up bandwidth and other resources.
Hackers can do a lot of damage with very little information to start with. By using phishing techniques, they can take advantage of seemingly innocuous information to gain access to your accounts. In more advanced cases, they may create fake versions of popular websites. By changing one letter in the domain name, they make it resemble the real page. Then, less attentive users will input their login information, which the hackers will later use to gain access to their real accounts.
Another famous example is the fake Steam screensaver — this malware created a screensaver where users would need to input a password to regain access. That information went straight to the hackers. Also, you must be suspicious of people asking you for personal information, like your full name, the names of your relatives, or birthday. Cyber thieves can use this to guess your password and login info.
4) Apps With Limited Security Protocols
Most gamers know to watch out for fake apps. It’s easy to determine which apps are legitimate based on the number of reviews, the developer, and other key factors. However, even some respected developers don’t take security seriously enough. Some apps have a range of vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to gain access to user data. This is particularly true for fan-made apps that sometimes accompany games. For example, user-created game guides have safety flaws that can lead to users’ data leaks.
Keyloggers are a malicious type of spyware that hackers deploy to capture keyboard information, typically login credentials. These cyber thieves most often target major gaming platforms like Steam and Origin, where people may have thousands of dollars’ worth of games and other purchases.
Cybercriminals will prey on individual users by sending a chat message offering a person to join their team. The hacker will then be very friendly and over time, convince to download an app for better communication in the team. Often they’ll insist a player needs it to ensure better gameplay. Naturally, it’s not a real chat app, but a piece of malware designed for stealing account details.
How to Stay Safe While Gaming Online
The most important step is to protect your internet connection. You can do this by choosing a high-quality VPN service provider. With it, you encrypt your internet connection and anonymize your IP address with the latest AES-256 technology — the same kind that leading national security agencies use. Hackers prey on easy targets, and this technology makes it nearly impossible for them to track your devices. To make sure you are protected, search for your IP after you’ve enabled the VPN (you can do that by going here https://nordvpn.com/what-is-my-ip/) and see that it doesn’t match your real IP address.
From here, be sure to follow digital hygiene strategies. Scan all downloads for malware and never reveal personal information to strangers online. Finally, make sure all your software is up to date with the latest security patches. Through these techniques, you’ll be able to protect yourself from even the most malicious hackers allowing you to enjoy your online gaming safely.