How much real money have you spent on extra Pokeballs? How many skins have you lost betting on CS:GO? Competing and interacting against others online has become the most popular form of gaming. Many modern day gamers spend money online - for example, buying add-ons to keep up with their competitors. However, do we really take into account the security risks when entering into these transactions? Or are we too focused on getting our hands on the latest add-ons?
Gaming itself is not a concern; but it can become so all-consuming that it blinds people to online threats. Kaspersky Lab recently conducted a survey of over 2,500 consumers aged 11-55: significant numbers of gamers switch off their Internet security to improve the gaming experience, leaving their computers open to attack. The simple fact that many gamers are unaware of, or simply do not care about, the security risks involved in their day-to-day gaming 'addiction' is a risk in itself.
With decision-making clearly faltering due to this growing 'obsession', now is the time to outline these threats and consider a safer way of online gaming. We would recommend the following to avoid opening yourself up to security attacks while in 'gaming mode'
1. Password management
Using a dictionary attack, it's possible for cybercriminals to crack thousands of gamer's passwords in minutes: sadly, too often people use easy-to-guess passwords. Passwords are possibly the biggest security threat of all for gamers. As 71 per cent of young people (18-35) say they use the same password for various online gaming platforms they are putting themselves at exceedingly high risk of cyber-attack.
To create a safer way of protecting your online gaming accounts it's essential to not use the same password for all online gaming platforms: if you do, and one account is compromised, every other account 'protected' using the same password is at risk. Always use unique, 15 character passwords that combine letters, numbers and special characters; and ensure that they don't include easy-to-guess (or easy to find in social networks) personal information. If the thought of remembering many unique passwords is too daunting, consider using a password manager application - it will create and auto-enter them for you when you need them and store them securely so that all you need to remember is a single master password.
2. Spending money online
Online games often involve spending real money to purchase in-game property such as skins, weapons and costumes for characters. Up to 49 per cent of respondents have spent money online while gaming and 17 per cent have encountered someone asking them to disclose financial information.
Be vigilant and take responsibility for ensuring that your financial information stays safe. It is crucial to not make any financial transactions on unofficial sites. Lastly, use an Internet security solution that will protect your device from cyber-threats.
3. False encounters
There's no doubt that gamers are becoming increasingly connected. But, with this comes greater security risks. 42 per cent of respondents to the above survey have encountered someone pretending to be another person online, and 24 per cent of respondents have experienced someone asking suspicious questions about them or asking for their personal information.
In this ever-connected world, over-sharing is a growing problem. It is more important then ever to be aware of whom you are interacting with and the information you are releasing. Be wary of who you're adding to your contact lists and understand that not everyone is who they say they are - if you can be hacked, so can your friends. Also remember that not all information you declare such as mother's maiden name and date of birth has to be real in the account activation process (the real answers to these personal questions can often be checked easily by cybercriminals).
Now is the time for gamers to begin taking care for themselves in all realms of online gaming platforms. It only takes a few simple steps to reduce the risk of a cyber-attack. Don't let the need for speed threaten your security.