Gaming is very fun, but you also have to be careful. Nowadays, it’s very easy for a hacker to get their hands on your data. Next thing you know, they’re selling your information on hacker forums, DoS/DDoS-ing you, or doing their best to scam you.
Pretty scary stuff, right? It’s definitely not what people tell you when they recommend playing that hit new online game that just launched.
Well, don’t worry – we’ll give you a helping hand! In this quick guide, we’ll give you six actionable tips that will help you avoid cyber threats as a gamer in 2021 (and beyond!).
1. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Not all games support this feature, but many have started implementing it. MFA basically adds another step in the login process which you need to complete to log into your account. Usually, you need to enter a randomly-generated code to finish the login process.
The security benefits are obvious – with MFA enabled, a hacker can’t compromise your account even if they somehow manage to steal your login credentials. They’ll need to get their hands on the randomly-generated code to do that. And you can set the code to trigger through a mobile app like Google Authenticator. So that means the cybercriminal would need to have physical access to your phone.
Hint: Some games refer to MFA as 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication). It’s the same thing, so it’s safe to use.
2. Use a VPN
VPNs are really great security tools for gamers. First of all, they hide your IP address. That means hackers can’t DoS/DDoS you anymore. If they can’t see your IP address, they can’t use it to target your network with cyber attacks.
What’s more, cybercriminals can’t use your IP address to find out personal info about you – like what country and city you are from, who your ISP is, and what your ZIP code is. They can’t use that information to scare you, make a profit, or put you in danger by involving you in Swatting.
And here’s another cool thing about VPNs – they encrypt your traffic end-to-end. That just means they make it unreadable to anyone who spies on it. Yes, even if you use unsecured WiFi networks. So hackers can’t abuse security vulnerabilities to steal your login credentials or redirect your traffic to phishing sites.
Also, VPN encryption prevents bandwidth throttling, meaning your ISP can’t slow down your gaming speeds when you use too much data.
To learn more about using a VPN when gaming, we suggest checking out GamerGirl. It’s a blog that belongs to ProPrivacy, a pretty renowned VPN review site. It’s full of helpful articles that teach you how to stay safe while gaming and tell you everything you need to know about gaming VPNs (including which ones to use).
3. Be Wary of Chats
If you’re new to gaming, it’s best to stay away from chats (especially if you’re very young). They can sometimes be full of toxic behavior – basically experienced players picking on new players.
However, other times, scammers might target new players in the chat. They might try to steal in-game currency and items from you, or they might go as far as dropping malicious links in the chat. If you follow them, you might end up on phishing sites that infect your device with malware.
For new players, we recommend not engaging in the general chat. Only participate in a conversation if you initiate it.
4. Use Antivirus Protection
By now, you have probably noticed a common theme – malware, and lots of it. Hackers rely on it to take over players’ accounts and devices.
Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, you might eventually make a mistake. You’re only human, after all.
When that happens, the best backup plan is to have antivirus software installed on your device. The moment it detects malware, it will automatically quarantine and delete it.
Hint: Don’t rely on VPNs for malware protection. They can only block connections to malicious websites through ad blockers. However, they can’t stop malware from infecting your device. Only antivirus software can do that.
5. Learn to Recognize a Scam
Unfortunately, there are tons of scammers that are just looking for unsuspecting victims in online games. It’s important to learn how to avoid them. Here are some things to watch out for:
- GMs, tech support, and server admins won’t directly message you to ask for your login credentials.
- If someone says they can boost your character by 10-20 levels or make an X amount of in-game currency overnight if you give them your account, they’re lying.
- Don’t waste time on players who try to aggressively pressure you into buying an in-game item. It’s probably useless and they think you don’t know that because you’re new to the game.
- No, guilds (or whatever they’re called in your game) don’t charge upfront fees for you to join them. Someone is just trying to get free money from you.
- If someone says they’ll sell you their character for a large sum of in-game (or even real-life) money, they’re very likely having fun at your expense.
6. Don’t Use Third-Party Stores, Apps, and Hacks
They’re alluring sure – what with their promise of free in-game items and currency, fast level-ups, or cracked games that don’t require any payments.
But here’s the problem – if it sounds too good to be true, it definitely is. Here’s what’s most likely going to happen – you’ll download a free game, app, or hack, and before you know it, your entire device will be infected with malware!
From then on, cybercriminals will have free reign to steal any data they want. And you can be sure they’ll delete all your characters too.
Online gaming can be tons of fun, but you need to take the proper security measures. Otherwise, you’re gonna have a bad time. Please tell us what else you do to stay safe while gaming online in the comments.