The online gaming industry has grown exponentially during the last decade, and its growth is not slowing down. The overall worth of the global PC online game market is expected to reach $45.5 billion by 2021, showing how significant online games have become.
Another source reveals that there will be over 2.7 billion gamers in the world by 2021. This is nearly a third of the entire human race. With that in mind, there is no doubt that online games play an active role in many people’s lives. The question is, are you safe while gaming?
Cyber Threats in Online Gaming
The remarkable growth of the online gaming industry has made more room for hackers to navigate through the pool of gamers scattered all around the world. Developers have created real in-game economies that mimic the systems we find in real life. The downside here is that cybercriminals can easily take advantage of these online gaming empires by breaching through the servers and stealing information or selling hacked accounts.
Some of the most common cyber threats in online gaming include the following:
Account takeover is the easiest and the most common way for hackers to meddle with your online gaming experience. They can make a profit by selling these hacked accounts to other players who are looking for higher ranks and better item collections in the game.
Believe it or not, the price of these stolen accounts can go up to several thousands of dollars, which gives hackers plenty of reasons to engage in credential theft.
Virtual Economy Theft
Each video game has its own virtual economy where players collect and exchange virtual goods. To get in on that action, hackers often use Gold Farming. It is a strategy that includes placing a Gold Farming bot, which creates resources faster than usual. This bot causes inflation within the virtual economy, and the hackers make use of this opportunity by selling the oversupply and collecting a profit. Although this is a short-term trick because the value of items decreases, the intruders can still make a significant profit.
Game Piracy and Console Hacking
One of the most dangerous security threats when it comes to gaming is console hacking. Experienced hackers can take advantage of poorly secured networks and systems to download games illegally. This kind of game piracy is made possible thanks to special software packages and additional cracking they perform on the console.
Yet, what is more concerning for the gamer is that hackers who breach into a console have access to the player’s sensitive information, including personal details, credit card info, account credentials, and anything else they might have saved through one of their games.
Last but not least, the distributed-denial-of-service attacks are quite common on gaming platforms and servers. These attacks can be carried out for many reasons. For example, maybe the hackers are trying to knock down the system and breach as many accounts as possible, or they have bad blood with a player and want to hinder their performance. This is also common during important gaming events.
Either way, DDoS attacks come with serious consequences such as data theft and ransom requests. In most cases, hackers will demand a ransom from the developer or the owner of the platform to bring the game back up.
Online Gamer’s Most Common Cybersecurity Mistakes
Reusing Old Passwords
Let’s face it – we’ve all reused an old password at least once in our lives. Online gamers who keep up with this practice are exposing themselves to serious cybersecurity risks. For example, it includes data theft and account takeover. While using the same password for many accounts does sound more convenient, this habit will only put your personal information at risk.
Instead of exposing your account to cyber threats, make sure to use diverse and strong credentials across different gaming platforms. This rule applies to any online profile that contains your personal details and sensitive information.
Falling for Phishing Scams
Hackers often target players of popular online games with phishing campaigns. Phishing is a type of online scam where cyber criminals present themselves as a reputable brand or individual to lure you on a fake page.
Once you get to their fake site, you will be asked to log in with your email address or other credentials to access whatever it is they are luring you to. The trick here is that the fake landing page records everything you type in, thus allowing hackers to steal your login information. Combine this with the mistake of reusing old passwords, and you will find yourself in some serious trouble.
Not Using a VPN
Setting up a virtual private network can take your online security to the next level, especially while gaming on online platforms. What is a VPN, and how does it work? A VPN is a tool that keeps you secure while browsing online. As soon as you connect to a VPN server, your IP address will be replaced, and your real location will be hidden.
Also, all your data and traffic will be fully encrypted. Thus, it will be protected from third parties such as hackers, internet service providers, or even the operators of the gaming platform. More and more hackers are trying to take advantage of gamers, so don’t forget to protect yourself from such cyber threats. Also, it doesn’t have to be complicated at all. For example, you can use NordVPN to stay on the safe side while playing games. It’s very easy to use, and you can keep your information safe whenever you’re online.
Protect Your Data in Advance
Securing your gaming account is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about online gaming. However, taking a few minutes to install the right security measures and break old habits can improve your online security.
With a VPN in place, along with malware protection on your device and strong credentials, you will be able to enjoy the gameplay without worrying about cyber threats or any other third-party influencing your gaming experience. Keep in mind that it is the player’s responsibility to protect their own accounts since game companies cannot vouch for every player.