Gaming is one of the world’s most lucrative and fast-growing industries—and cybercriminals love it. Gamers make great targets because of the gaming industry’s financial success and massive user base.
Yet, only a few hackers have the skills to attack game publishers’ well-defended platforms. Most cybercriminals find easier pickings among the gamers themselves. They can use malware or other means to gain control of a user’s computer or gaming console. This allows them to spy on users’ activities and steal valuable data.
Gamers need defenses, and we have some great insights on the industry and tips to help protect you.
What Dangers Do Gamers Face, and Why?
Hackers attack for various reasons. Some want street credibility, so gaming platforms are an irresistible challenge for those trying to make a name. Some are hacktivists motivated by ethical or moral principles. Hacktivists and attention-seekers tend to attempt high-profile breaches of gaming giants.
But money is an excellent motivator for lower-level hackers and scammers. Some focus on in-game loot. Virtual riches often have real-world value, which tempts people to steal or manipulate them. In-game looters typically target games with in-game currencies or trading systems. Others focus on hacking players to steal financial and other sensitive information. Then, they sell it on the dark web.
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Hackers use a range of cyber tactics to fleece players, including:
Built-in surveillance: Certain shady publishers secretly monitor their users’ online activity. They sell user information to advertisers and others with evil intent.
In-game phishing: Bad actors sometimes distribute phishing links through game chat rooms. The aim is to get others to install game malware onto their machines or send players to a fake, malicious website to steal their login credentials.
Data breaches: When hackers penetrate a platform’s defenses, they could steal valuable information. It could range from user account information to the source code.
Account takeover: Sharing your credentials with other players or a careless slip could allow bad actors to access or hijack your account. Hackers also use brute force attacks against platforms. They use automated scripts to guess passwords or test credentials stolen from other sources.
DDoS Attacks: Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are versatile. Criminals may bring down a game publisher’s entire platform to cause chaos and disrupt users’ gaming experience. But sometimes, individual players buy DDoS-for-hire or stressor services on the dark web. They use them against specific IP addresses to force a particular opposing player to disconnect. That’s why you need a VPN to hide IP address from hackers while gaming.
Poisoned software: People downloading free game versions often receive viruses and malware as part of the package. Some mods or gaming bots can also place you at risk.
How to Protect Yourself?
Gamers invest long hours in their virtual worlds. They develop a deep emotional connection with their gaming friends and foes. They become so used to the game being an escape world that they forget about cybersecurity. Attackers exploit this emotional link to improve their chances of successful cyberattacks. However, gamers should always follow these basic principles of cybersecurity:
- Use strong passwords and set up multi-factor authentication: Two- or multi-factor authentication protects you against hacking.
- Only download from legitimate sources: You risk introducing viruses or game malware onto your machine if you download from unofficial or pirated sources. Stick to reputable download sites.
- Keep software, including antivirus software, up to date: Up-to-date software can protect you from newly discovered exploits and vulnerabilities.
- Conceal your location: A VPN will hide your IP address and prevent attackers from snooping on you.
- Protect your personal information: Don’t use identifying information for usernames, in-game characters, or place names. Don’t share personal details on gaming forums, chat rooms, and in-game messages.
A Few Final Words
Remember, in-game cyberattacks can have real-life consequences. Following these tips might seem tiresome and time-consuming, but being safe is better than sorry.
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