Unless you have never connected your console/PC to the internet, you’ve undoubtedly experienced some bad behavior by other gamers. If you’re lucky, it’s some name-calling and obscenities.
But in many cases, it can get much worse than that. The ugly side of gaming includes threats, harassment, and targeting people based on their gender, religion, age, race, and other characteristics. This is becoming a big part of the gaming world.
Unfortunately, these dangers only seem to be growing. Two-thirds of gamers in the US have experienced severe harassment in one way or another.
So, what are the threats? And how can you be safe? Here’s everything you need to know.
The Rising Tide of Dangers to Gamers
Many people aren’t old enough to remember, but there have been problems like these since the dawn of the internet era.
But a few things are causing them to reach critical mass. First, there are more gamers than ever. While it’s hard to know exactly, about 3 billion people in the world are actively gaming.
This comes in all kinds of flavors. From those who downloaded Candy Crush to serious eSports competitors with $10,000 rigs, gamers are truly a diverse bunch!
It’s a big and lucrative world. Unfortunately, this creates a lot of risks. To start, it’s lucrative. The global gaming industry will exceed $150 billion, far beating Hollywood.
That’s why hackers target gamers to get access to both in-game items but also personal information.
At the same time, there is little industry safeguarding. There are no gaming police. Sure, they can ban a user from a server, but it’s not too difficult for somebody to work around this.
With this in mind, gamers must take their safety into their own hands.
Start With a VPN
VPNs, virtual private networks, anonymize IP addresses, and encrypt your internet connection, making them a favorite in the business world.
But gamers are increasingly using them to protect their identity and defend against DDoS attacks and unlock content from around the world. VPNs have tons of benefits for gamers, so start using one now.
Get Serious About Your Passwords
We’re not going to call you out. But you know that you’re guilty of recycling passwords. People do that to make their lives easier.
But it also puts their security at great risk because if a hacker manages to get access to one of your accounts, they’ll be able to easily break into any of the others that use the same password.
That’s why you must have an original, lengthy, and complex password for each of your accounts. To help you remember them, use a password manager.
Combined with two-factor authentication and biometrics, your accounts will be much safer.
Watch for Social Engineering Attacks
Social engineering, like phishing attacks, are everywhere in the gaming universe. It might be a realistic-looking email from a trusted gaming platform that’s actually a hacker in disguise trying to get your login credentials.
Or it could be an in-game scammer trying to steal your items. Social engineering is one of the biggest online threats, but you can recognize even sophisticated attacks and defend yourself accordingly if you train your eye.
Trust Must Be Earned
The digital world is a great place to make friends. Unfortunately, a few bad actors will leverage personal relationships to cause all kinds of havoc.
They might try to track down your address, stalk you, steal your identity, or do other forms of harm. While you should definitely have some gaming buddies, be very careful about whom you give personal details like your social media account information.
Be An Active Community Member
The gaming community can be a very tight and integrated place. The number of good people in it far outnumber the bad.
But like any community, you have to work together. The first is not tolerating any sort of racist, sexist, or threatening remarks. Call out those people and report them to the mods.
Likewise, if you think something suspicious is going on, share it with those around you and keep an eye on the news. Zero-day exploits can happen almost instantaneously, so be on your guard and warn those around you.
Create The Gaming World You Want
While we are far away from a gaming utopia, we can all work together to build a better digital world for everyone. Use these tips and tools to stay safe and enjoy the playing time you deserve!