Security essentials for online gaming
As the popularity of online gaming increases, online game networks have become a prominent target for cyber criminals. The most famous online gaming security breach was the Sony Network hack. In April 2011, 77 million user accounts on the PlayStation Network were compromised, 12, 000 credit card numbers were potentially stolen and the network was forced to shut down for 23 days. Online gaming offers cyber-criminals an attractive target, as the popularity of gaming networks could provide a successful cyber-criminal with access to a significant amount of money and data.
Online gaming accounts are typically connected with the user’s credit card details to enable quick in-game purchases. As computer games typically consume a significant amount of resources, many gamers turn off their antivirus programs in order to play without any lags in speed or visual quality. This known vulnerability makes gamers additionally vulnerable to malware and phishing attacks.
In March of this year, a new form of ransomware was released that targeted the players of two dozen popular online games and locked them out of their saved games, purchased add-ons and high scores. Gamers typically pay for premium in-game features and spend significant amounts of time developing their online characters, particularly for role-playing games (RPGs). It takes months and sometimes years to develop a successful character in an online gaming environment and existing characters can be sold for thousands of dollars. In addition to credit card details, this in-game content is an additional form of currency that makes cyber-attacks on gamers an increasingly lucrative venture.
Security Tips for Gamers:
- Instead of turning off your antivirus program, use security software that adapts itself to gaming. Ad-Aware’s Game Mode suspends security alerts and scheduled scans but provides real-time protection while limiting its use of system resources.
- Ensure usernames on online gaming networks do not contain your or your real name, location, gender, age or other identifiable information. Additionally, using an avatar instead of a real photo is also a way to increase privacy. If a game features live voice chat, some online gaming networks offer features to disguise your voice.
- Be vigilant about suspicious emails from your online gaming network, particularly emails which demand that you click on links or threaten your account status. The users of several high-profile gaming networks have been targeted by phishing attacks in the past which convincingly spoofed login pages and captured user credentials.
- Use best practices when it comes to your password, utilizing different passwords across multiple sites as well as using a combination of letters, numbers, capital, and lowercase letters. Avoid the old standards: 12345, ABCDEFG, and “Password.”