Online gaming is a multibillion-dollar industry and is growing in popularity by the minute.
In 2020, online gaming generated $21.1 billion in revenue, representing growth of nearly 22% from 2019.
Just like every other industry, gaming has changed over time. Technology has helped to connect online gamers globally to interact and communicate with one another.
However, with the advancement of technology comes the addition of dangers. You might be wondering how online gaming can be dangerous. You’d be surprised at the number of cyber-hazards online gamers face each time they log on to their consoles.
As crazy as this is to believe, online gamers fall victim to cybercriminals as well. There are multiple ways in which cybercriminals can violate an online gamer’s privacy. Some methods that cybercriminals use to violate online gamers’ privacy involve identity theft, malware, and phishing.
Cybercriminals can commit identity theft against gamers by stealing a player’s log-in credentials and exposing the player’s personal information. In a recent survey, 27% of gamers in the United States reported that their identity has been stolen.
In addition to identity theft, online gamers are at risk of falling for phishing scams. A phishing attack is a cybercrime in which hackers steal a person’s data, including financial information and log-in credentials. An example of a phishing attack for online gamers could be downloading a false file that initiates malware onto a player’s gaming system.
Once this malware is downloaded, the cybercriminal can gain access to the player’s account. Cybercriminals can do several things for a profit with the online gamer’s account, from purchasing unverified gaming expenses to holding gaming characters and items for ransom. Although it may seem silly to someone who isn’t involved in gaming, the online gamer has invested time and energy into obtaining those items and may do whatever it takes to get them back.
In addition to phishing, cybercriminals can gain access to an online gamer’s account in several ways. One of the more common methods involves camera and microphone access. Cybercriminals can access an online gamer’s account through remote access to additional devices like cameras and microphones. This happens when cybercriminals trick the online gamer into clicking on a link that implants spyware on the device. Once this spyware is activated, cybercriminals can control the camera and microphone.
Cybercriminals can also take advantage of location sharing to gain access to a player’s account. Location sharing gives cybercriminals the opportunity to use a player’s location-tracking data to either stalk them or establish scams based on the player’s interest. This can happen through several methods, including spyware, spying apps, or reviewing public check-ins. Cybercriminals are also at an advantage when using spyware because spyware is difficult to detect on mobile devices.
How can cybercriminals use poorly protected servers and unsecured Wi-Fi to violate online gamers’ privacy?
The biggest misperception about online servers is that they are equally protected. In all honesty, anyone can establish a server with little equipment. Once the server is compromised, so are the gaming devices that are connected to that server.
The same can be said for unsecured Wi-Fi. It is easier for hackers to access an online gamer’s account and all of the gamer’s data when the Wi-Fi is not secure. Hackers can use methods such as packet sniffing, where hackers incorporate tools used by network technicians that help diagnose network-related issues to spy on network user traffic and collect passwords.
Because online gaming has transitioned from different types of platforms, different types of people participate in online gaming. Children and teenagers can interact with adults through video games and chat rooms. Unfortunately, this type of easy access to children allows online predators to interact with young gamers and subject them to malicious and inappropriate sexual content.
Online predators can connect with young gamers through a false gaming profile and make virtual connections with young gamers. Some of the online predators’ methods involve building a relationship with young gamers and tricking the young gamers into sharing sexually explicit photos and videos for blackmail.
Unfortunately, online gamers have more than just cybercriminals and online predators to worry about when it comes to protecting their privacy online. Online gamers are also at risk of having their privacy violated by data tech companies. Data tech companies can initiate a method known as data mining to collect information about online gamers without the gamers even being aware of it.
Data mining is a process where specific characteristics and patterns within a large set of data are used to determine a particular type of outcome. In online gaming, data tech companies can use data mining to determine new updates or features added to a game. The issue, however, is that online gamers are unaware of what information is collected and how it is used.
Fortunately, there are several ways that online gamers can protect their privacy online from cybercriminals, online predators, and data tech companies. One of the ways to preserve privacy involves updating applications frequently.
Because cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, online gamers should apply the latest applications of systems possible that come with the latest security measures. These security measures will help to protect the software against the latest cyberattacks. Even better, the application informs the gamer when an update is available.
Another way that online gamers can protect their privacy is by updating their passwords regularly. The use of complex, unique passwords is still beneficial for online gamers and anyone who uses the internet. Periodically changing passwords helps protect the user from falling victim to multiple cyberattacks.
Users are advised to change their passwords every two to three months. Another method that many people may find bothersome but is beneficial is the two-factor authentication method. This method provides a high barrier to entry for protected information. Devices protected by the two-factor authentication require the use of a password and other unique information, such as a fingerprint scan or single-use code.
A VPN, or virtual private network, is a more secure tool that users can use when browsing the internet. VPNs create an encrypted “tunnel” between a user’s computer and the internet, allowing the user’s browsing traffic to become virtually untraceable. When a person browses the internet without a VPN, the person’s browsing activity is open for everyone to see.
Because we use the internet for multiple activities, a VPN would be a beneficial investment, from managing financial information to shopping online. It would be a worthwhile investment for online gamers who spend upwards of 10 to 12 hours online. Some VPNs also provide additional security provisions for gamers that help protect gaming accounts.
Are you thinking about getting into online gaming, even just as a hobby? If so, you must invest in VPNs and other protective software to prevent hackers from accessing your account. It could mean the difference between having fun and needing to create a brand new account after losing all of your information.