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The Importance of Cyber Security For Online Gamers

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The online gaming sector has exploded over the past few years and according to Visual Capitalist is expected to generate close to USD $200 billion in revenue by the end of 2022.

The biggest games online are reporting huge revenues – the biggest grossing online game, Honor of Kings/Arena of Valor reports revenue of $13.1 billion since it was launched in November 2015 and the top 30 grossing online games all reported revenue of over $1 billion.

Online gaming has become much more accessible thanks to improved smartphones, gaming laptops, and consoles. This is enabling more and more people to turn to online gaming. Whether it is a form of escapism, an opportunity to catch up with friends online, or competitive gaming, the industry is booming right now and continuing to grow with an appeal to younger and older audiences.

Unfortunately, like many other industries, the increase in online gaming brings with it new threats. Due to the reliance on connectivity, the online gaming industry has become a lucrative target for cybercriminals. The personal information linked to online gaming accounts puts a huge target on the back of gaming sites and they have been forced to address cybersecurity risks in order to build trust with online gamers and encourage them to keep on playing and spending.

A recent survey commissioned by the consumer cyber safety software company NortonLifeLock has found two-thirds of New Zealanders were worried that gaming would become less secure in the future.

As reported in an article on RNZ, “A third of New Zealanders had been hacked at least once, while 8 per cent had been hacked more than once.

Sensitive information, both personal and financial, are used, stored, and linked to online gaming accounts. If exploited, this information can be a valuable target for cybercriminals. To avoid being targeted and to continue enjoying the mystical worlds found within online gaming, users need to be aware of cybersecurity threats.

Speaking to RNZ, Norton senior director Mark Gorrie said, “Gamer tags are ransacked for virtual items and personally identifiable information that are bought and sold for real money on the Dark Web.

Once a gaming account has been breached, the gamer’s other accounts, from banking to social media, are at a much higher risk for account takeovers and fraud.

Cyber security threats in online gaming

Cybercriminals are becoming more and more sophisticated in the way they target businesses and individuals, placing increasing pressure on cyber security countermeasures. 

Whilst cybercriminals are getting more sophisticated, some of the most common security threats for online gamers also include some “old school” cybercrime tactics. These include:

 

Ransomware

Ransomware is a tactic usually deployed against large enterprises, however, it has also been found to infect systems and consoles used by online gamers. Ransomware works on the premise that a gamer’s personal information, potentially including banking details, is stolen and can only be retrieved once a ransom is paid to the attacker.

 

Phishing

Phishing is one of the oldest cyber crimes in the book, however, it is still a common and remarkably successful tactic deployed by cybercriminals across a wide range of sectors including online gaming. In the gaming sector, a message will usually be sent to a user mimicking a trusted user they may have encountered online, asking for personal information. These phishing attacks are getting more sophisticated and people are often duped into passing over personal information. Once the attacker has this information, it can be used to replicate someone’s identity and either used to extort the victim or carry out fraudulent activity.

 

Spyware

Another “old school” tactic is the deployment of spyware on a user’s machine through an untrustworthy or insecure online gaming platform. Spyware is then used to monitor the activity of the user, tracking their every movement online without their knowledge. That information can be used for a wide range of fraudulent activities or sold to third parties.

Staying safe online

There are a number of countermeasures online gamers can put in place in order to reduce the threat of cybercrime. 

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are a great way to mask sensitive information by obscuring your location, IP address, history, activity, and digital devices.

Antivirus software should be a given for all gamers and this can scan for viruses, malware, and ransomware on a device or console, prompting users to take action if a threat is discovered. Many antivirus packages also include VPNs so it is possible to invest in an all-in-one solution that can also be deployed across multiple devices, keeping you safe no matter where you are gaming.

It also goes without saying that gamers need to be vigilant online. People might not be who they seem to be so be very wary of anyone that requests personal information through chat boards or private messages. Just as you would with email, be very careful about what you click unless you can be 100% sure about the identity of the person sending you a link or requesting information.

Be very wary when using public WiFI networks as these are not always secure and cybercriminals often target open WiFi networks as an entry point to gain access to devices that do not deploy good cybersecurity measures. Some antivirus packages will automatically deploy a VPN when you access a public WiFi network in order to help to keep your device secure.

Finally, make sure you have secure passwords for all your gaming logins and use different passwords for each platform. Use a password manager such as 1Password or LastPass to help to generate secure passwords that can be recorded by the password manager.

 

Businesses are responsible for cybersecurity

Whilst it is the responsibility of individuals to protect their own devices, there is also a responsibility for online gaming platforms to protect their users and we have seen gaming brands investing heavily in cybersecurity measures in recent times.

Many businesses are turning to Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help them to keep on top of the huge amount of data that needs to be processed and analysed, especially as the number of online players continues to grow.

Online casino Betway not only promotes safer gambling, including ID checks to ensure no underage gamblers can access their site, but they also invest in cybersecurity methods in order to protect the personal data of gamers on their site. 

SSL encryption, backend security, and clear terms and conditions are all steps that online gaming companies are taking to protect users in addition to valid software licenses where relevant. User support mechanisms and transparency help to reassure users about the security of the platform they are engaging on and help to keep them safe whilst enjoying online gaming.

 

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