With millions of people playing video games every day, it’s generally an enjoyable and trouble-free experience. Unfortunately, this means that it can become all too easy to ignore the fact that there are definite risks involved.
These are similar to the other dangers we all face when we’re online. Fortunately, however, the steps we take to keep ourselves safe in other areas of interaction apply to gaming too.
The one issue is that we might not expect to be at risk when we’re gaming. After all, it’s something we are doing predominantly for pleasure. So, it’s doubly important to be aware of the dangers and to follow these pieces of advice.
Make sure all your details are secure
If you use online stores and gaming networks to play, then it’s vital that you follow all of the standard ways to secure them and avoid being hacked. These include having a strong password that you only use for this particular site or account. If possible, you should also enable two-factor authentication. Make sure that you keep your details to yourself and never let anyone else log in to your account – and always log out at the end of the session.
Keep personal details personal
In many cases, when you’re playing games against other people online you will never really know who they are. 99 times out of 100 everything will be fine. But in a tiny minority of instances, they may try to get personal information about you. Even something as innocent as letting them know your birthday could be just enough for them to start to steal your identity – and letting them know where you live could be even more risky. So be cautious about anyone you don’t know personally who might, however subtly, be trying to find out these kinds of things.
Online casino players beware
While the levels of security in online casinos are high – often higher than banks or other financial institutions – there are risks. After all, you are sharing personal, and possibly financial, details with the site. That means that it may be a target for hackers looking for information they can exploit. So, follow the two tips outlined above. And rather than handing over your personal bank details, consider using one of the many digital wallets that are available. For example, many online casinos accept PayPal as a form of payment, PayPal is a well-known global secure payment provider. By using a trusted e-wallet, this will give you an extra level of security and, with it, greater peace of mind.
Only buy from trusted online sites and stores
Every November around the Black Friday Sales the same warning is issued. Offers that look too good to be true generally are. This underlines the importance of only using trusted online stores for your needs whether you’re looking for a game, a console or even an app. If you’re at all suspicious it can be a good idea to look around online for genuine reviews of the site in question and any red flags that come up in gaming forums.
Remember, downloading dodgy games can be especially risky as they may contain anything from viruses to spyware.
Don’t be tempted by cheat sheets
We all like to find little hacks and other tricks that will give us a competitive advantage. But relying on cheat sheets supplied by others is no way to get them. There is a strong possibility that one from an unknown source could also be carrying in a virus or spyware with it. Another danger is ransomware that could disable your device until you pay to have it removed.
So, rely on your own skill and wits to get the measure of your favourite games. It’s less risky and a lot more fun.
Keep your software up to date
This is a good principle to follow not just for gaming but for all your devices. Often, vulnerabilities are discovered, and the developers and hardware manufacturers release reasonably frequent updates to protect against them. For devices, you can generally find a tool with the settings menu to search for any outstanding updates.
So, a weekly or monthly check is always going to be a good idea. Plus, it’s not just good for enhancing security. Often updates also improve the performance and reliability of the device in question.
Avoid using public wi-fi
It’s always tempting when you’re out and about and in the mood for gaming to use public wi-fi. But, for the sake of saving some of your own data allowance, you can be putting yourself seriously at risk. There have been many instances of fake hotspots being set up to harvest data from unsuspecting users. A partial solution might be to use a VPN or set your browsing to “private” mode. These may not be fool proof though. So, it might just be better to only play on wi-fi networks you know and trust.
Have a secure firewall and anti-virus software
This is probably the most important piece of advice of all. Together, these should protect you from most threats. There can be issues with the gaming experience if either of them interferes with it. But, in the case of a firewall, you can generally set it to let through games you know you can trust. Most good quality anti-virus software also has a gaming mode that you can activate that should solve any issues.
So, for more enjoyable and safer gaming, just follow all of the steps. And they won’t just protect you, they’ll also give you greater peace of mind as you play your favourite games
Working as a cyber security solutions architect, Alisa focuses on application and network security. Before joining us she held a cyber security researcher positions within a variety of cyber security start-ups. She also experience in different industry domains like finance, healthcare and consumer products.