Winter is coming earlier this year, which means you and your family will probably be spending more time inside huddled around your gaming systems and smart devices. Cyber crooks understand people young and old are playing games on their devices and they are prepared to do whatever it takes to trick you and your family into falling for a variety of scams. Doesn't matter if you're playing 'Words with Friends, Fortnite, Call of Duty, Wordle or Roblox, you need to follow these best practices to protect your information. Check out my recommendations for keeping sensitive information secure and protecting yourself while playing online games.
You probably didn't know this but online gamers are common targets for cybercriminals. You always need to have your guard up, because anyone you or your children encounter in an online video game could be a cyber crook who may try to steal your sensitive information. Here are some of the threats to your data security and safety that you may encounter while playing games online.
Stolen accounts. Video game accounts are targets for cybercriminals because they are often linked to credit cards and contain important personal information. They are also valuable for the achievements and rare in-game items you earn while playing. These achievements make your gaming accounts valuable and can be sold to others.
Doxxing. This occurs when crooks and other malicious players publish your home or office address publicly and usually with malicious intent. People will then use that PII to harass and target you,
Swatting. Sometimes cybercriminals use your leaked personal information to send the police a false tip about a crime, which prompts them to send emergency services – such as a SWAT team – to your house.
Harassment and cyberbullying. You aren't always at risk from cybercriminals. There are malicious people in gaming communities who commit acts of stalking and sustained harassment.” That means many incidents of harassment that originate from online gaming and can move into real-life environments.
How You Can Stay Safe While Online Gaming
Luckily, the risks of online gaming can be minimized with simple, but effective tips
1. Is your personal information floating on the dark web? There have been many online gaming sites that have suffered data leaks. In 2022, the companies that make Roblox, Elden Ring, and Dark Souls suffered data breaches. Do a quick check to see if your gaming credentials have been leaked on www.haveibeenpwned.com If your information has been leaked, immediately change the passwords for the gaming accounts that have been leaked as well as ones that were using the same password as those that were leaked.
2. Start using passphrases on your gaming accounts. If you stick to the old practice of using passwords, your accounts will continue to get hacked. A passphrase is a password created with two unrelated words that are combined to create secure protection for your gaming accounts. Using a unique, random passphrase with at least 8 characters for each of your gaming accounts can protect you from many online gaming threats. Need help creating one, visit www.useapassphrase.com
3. Use a Password manager. You might be reluctant to use a password manager for your gaming accounts because of the 2022 LastPass breach. Remembering all of your unique passwords is a nearly impossible challenge, so we recommend using a password manager to remember them for you. Whatever web browser you use, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Brave or Edge is great for saving all of those hard-to-remember passwords.
4. Enable 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) 2FA requires an additional method of authentication – usually a code sent to your email address or smartphone which helps prevent an attacker from getting into your account with just your credentials. Most online gaming platforms offer sophisticated 2FA options, as cyberattacks in online gaming are common.
5. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) while playing online games. A VPN is worth it for online gamers because threat actors who encounter you on a live gaming platform may be able to see your IP address, which can give away your location. Because a VPN hides your traffic, it also hides your location. Knowing your location is the first step in attacks like doxing and swatting.
6. Keep your gaming software updated. Don't ignore those updates, they are released because there's a credible vulnerability in the game you're playing. Software updates contain security patches that fix known vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals often target users shortly after the security patch is released in hopes of exploiting a vulnerability before users have a chance to update and fix it.
7. Pick an anonymous username. Never use your real name when playing games online. When you share your personal information like birthdays, names (including middle names), and age, a cyber crook actor can use any tiny piece of information to target you online.
8. Use a credit card to make purchases. Credit cards have more protection against fraudulent charges, so it’s recommended to use them instead of debit cards to make purchases online – including in video game stores like Steam
I hope you can use these tips to keep safe when gaming online. If you need further assistance, please reach out to me with any questions you might have. I am always happy to help.
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