The gaming industry is hugely successful.
Worth $147 billion in 2019, the gaming market value currently exceeds $229 billion and is projected to reach $545.98 billion by 2028.
The industry’s success has attracted hackers seeking to harvest people’s identities for sale, take over user accounts, or plant malware and viruses on players’ computers.
If you’re a gamer, following some basic rules online will reduce the chances of attack and loss.
Here are 15 steps you can take to stay safe while gaming.
Tip #1: Keep your operating system and apps updated
Hackers use malicious software to exploit weaknesses they find in operating systems and programs. Software manufacturers regularly issue software updates to plug such weaknesses once found.
Make sure to update your system patches once you get them.
Tip #2: Download software from trusted sources
Players who download unofficial game versions and cheats become easy targets for attacks from malicious code and unwanted software.
To stay safe, download from original or trusted sources and avoid using cheats.
Tip #3: Game and browse anonymously
Your computer’s IP address can reveal a lot of things. It shows which internet service provider you’re using, your location, and your online browsing habits. At the same time, using public Wi-Fi can reveal your private information.
So, how could you avoid all that? With a trustworthy VPN download, which will hide your location, protect your privacy, and encrypt your browsing habits.
Tip #4: Manage your privacy settings
Online games unite players worldwide. On the other hand, gamers can see when you’re online and which games you play. This may pose a threat to your data.
Make sure to check on the privacy setting options and hide your profile from people you don’t know. Just as in real life, be wary of strangers approaching you online.
Tip #5: Be clever with passwords
We make it easy for hackers when we use simple passwords like “password” or “123435”. Another mistake is using the same password for multiple sites.
To increase your security use a unique password for each gaming site. Add symbols, numbers, and upper and lower case letters to it. Avoid words you can find in a dictionary. A top tip is to use spaces in the password, which greatly increases its strength.
Tip #6: Use obscure usernames
We often choose usernames based on how we see ourselves or how we’d like others to see us. However, your username can identify too much information about you. When combined with other facts, hackers can easily target you.
Never include your name, age, town, mobile number, or workplace/school name. Instead of a photo, use a graphical avatar.
Tip #7: Beware of your webcam
Some games require the use of your webcam. Unfortunately, there is software that allows others to use your webcam covertly.
To avoid people seeing what your room looks like and where you’re playing, turn your webcam off or unplug when not playing. When it’s disconnected, you’re safe.
Tip #8: Use two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication makes it harder for scammers to access your account. Once activated, you’ll need to enter a security code to log in.
Even if your password is hacked: without approval at the second factor, a password alone is useless.
Tip #9: Never reveal your identity
While gaming, you can easily meet new people and create meaningful connections. Yet, no matter how long you’ve played together, your online friends remain strangers.
To stay safe and have a positive gaming experience, resist sharing personal details about yourself. Only reveal the facts that can’t be used against you.
Tip #10: Ignore links requesting account details
You may get an email from a gaming platform asking for some personal or financial details. This is a common scam, called “phishing”.
Don’t click on suspicious links or respond to suspicious messages. If in doubt, contact the company through their legitimate website and ask if they’ve sent it.
Tip #11: Avoid redirection to other sites for purchases
Games often have the option of in-app purchases. Be sure to purchase only through the official gaming website, and beware of any redirects that take you to a third-party website.
Once you leave the safety of the gaming platform, you could be the target of malicious software.
Tip #12: Block suspect players immediately
Before using a gaming platform, check how you can block suspicious players. Unfortunately, some people you meet online will engage in activities to steal, hurt, or intimidate you.
If any interactions cause you to feel uneasy, don’t hesitate to block those users immediately and report the abuse.
Tip #13: Use anti-virus software
Prevent the infection of your computer by malware, ransomware, and viruses with good anti-virus software. Viruses and other malicious code can steal your identity, account details, or even money.
Pick an anti-virus software designed specifically for gaming. Make sure it prevents CPU overload and dropped frames while playing.
Tip #14: Check gamer reviews of sites before use
The gaming community is a knowledgeable bunch. Many online gaming boards host reviews of gaming sites.
Before using a new gaming platform, check the online reviews to gauge others’ opinions of its trustworthiness. If there are concerns, give it a miss.
Tip #15: Always audit your online profile
Simply Google your username and check what this search reveals. You may be surprised at how much of your personal information is available to others. To minimize your data footprint and protect yourself, change your passwords, usernames, or block certain gaming sites.
Unfortunately, the gaming industry’s success has attracted scammers who wish to cash in on your pleasure.
While some attacks are simply annoying, others lead to identity, money, or cryptocurrency theft.
Nonetheless, tour safety online requires constant vigilance. While nothing can guarantee 100% safety, these fifteen tips will greatly reduce your exposure to common threats, sending hackers searching for easier targets.