Gaming is not what it used to be. With so many people involved in the activity nowadays, it’s inevitable that some of them are going to be less than pleasant to deal with. This is a fact that every gamer needs to get used to as early as possible. If you’re playing online, you should be aware of the various threats that you’re going to face at one point or another.
It’s not that difficult to stay safe if you know what challenges might occur. And, as long as you follow some common security practices, you should be able to avoid any trouble.
1. Account Takeovers
A gaming account is no longer just about the games tied to it. In some cases, it can be a valuable asset, with actual monetary value. Take skins in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or Dota 2, for example – some of them have sold for hundreds of dollars! You must make sure that your account is protected at all times by using a unique password for each service that’s not easy to guess.
Sometimes, having your account hacked won’t be about taking your virtual assets, but rather getting revenge on you for some perceived slight. If someone breaks into your account and uses cheats in an online game, you will likely get banned, and there’s usually no way to undo the damage.
If you’re playing any competitive game, you should also be wary of people who take their entertainment too seriously. It’s common for people who are bad at losing to try looking up the IP addresses of their opponents, only to attack them with DDoS tools that cause connection problems for the victim. This can cause you to have a laggy experience, or even disconnect from your current session.
This can be avoided by connecting through a VPN, which will allow you to easily change your IP address. It even works on Android phones, so no matter if you’re gaming on your computer at home or your phone while waiting for the bus, you’ll be able to stay safe and keep your connection protected at all times.
An extension of the above are hackers who might try to hunt down your real-life identity to exact their revenge. This can sometimes be very easy if you’re careless, and the repercussions can be severe. There have been cases of people fired from work, losing their spouses, and various other problems created by malicious actors trying to interfere with their lives. When someone has a combination of too much free time, good technical skills, and a delicate ego, bad things can happen.
Try to keep your gaming identity from your real one as separate as possible. Don’t reuse your nicknames on any platforms that might be used to trace you back to your real name. Also, always connect through a secure connection – like a VPN – if you’re playing a game that might expose your IP address to others.
Be careful with those torrents too! It might seem like a good deal, and it occasionally is. But there are various hackers constantly trying to take advantage of the popularity of newly released software – especially games – by putting up pirated copies that contain new viruses that are difficult to trace.
If you can afford the original title, you should purchase it anyway. It’s a cliché, but if you get several hours of enjoyment out of it, then it’s worth your money in the first place. And by torrenting the games you love instead of buying them, especially when smaller studios make them, you’re decreasing your chances of ever seeing a sequel.
5. Payment System Hacks
Be careful with your payment methods too. If a gaming platform asks you to save your credit card information or PayPal address, it’s best to skip that option unless you purchase there very frequently. If someone takes over your account, they might also compromise any saved payment credentials along with it. Don’t trust the gaming platform to obfuscate that information – that’s not always the case.
Staying safe when gaming is mostly a matter of knowing what threats are lurking for you. As long as you apply some common sense to your actions, you should be able to avoid the majority of potential risks out there. Moreover, you’ll be able to have a great time enjoying your favorite titles with other people, whether they’re random strangers or close friends.