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Secure gaming is about protecting your devices and online life. Read on to learn about gaming-related online threats and what you can do about them.

Gaming culture involves massive amounts of money and personal details

Gaming is a huge culture-and business. Game purchases, in-app content, subscription fees, etc. all stack up to a business with annual worth way over $100 billion globally. Not only that, but there are millions and millions of accounts in gaming platforms, forums, and services. These accounts include valuable personal information, such as email addresses, billing information and credit card details.

Online criminals are drawn into the money and data involved with gaming. It’s rather obvious why money attracts criminals, but personal details are also valuable to them. Stolen personal details can lead to account takeover and identity theft. Read more about that in our article Why do hackers want your personal information >>

Gaming-related cyber-attacks are increasing

Gamers outside of their games are just computer users with the same security issues and the same concerns as everyone else. They can fall victim to any other cyber-attack out there, such as phishing and malware. But gamers nowadays also have to face gaming-specific attacks. In fact, gaming-related cyber-attacks have been increasing during Covid-19. People have had more time to play games during lockdowns and quarantines. The increasing amount of money and personal details attract an increasing number of criminals.

Secure gaming doesn’t mean slower computer

At the same time, there’s a persistent myth that cyber security and gaming don’t go well together. Games require a lot of power from devices they run on. Back in the days cyber security programs did indeed have an impact on performance. Luckily, these times are well in the past.

Modern antivirus products don’t burden devices in the same way as before. Today’s virus protection typically works with cloud-based technology. That way performance is not affected in the same way as before. At the same time, computers and connections are so much faster than before. Even cumbersome software from the past runs smoothly now. That doesn’t mean all antivirus programs are equal. Their effect on performance is tested. For an uninterrupted experience it’s necessary to get gaming-optimized protection.

Despite development, the myth still prevails. And it causes many gamers to leave themselves vulnerable to attacks.

Why secure gaming is important – Gaming-related online threats

Next, let’s have a look on what kind of gaming-related cyber threats are out there.

Malware

Malware can cause lag, system crashes and all kinds of other annoying things that can disturb gaming and damage computers. Keyloggers can steal your login credentials to gaming and social media accounts. Spyware can also snoop your login data, but also your browsing history, and almost any other data. Worst of all, gaming-specific ransomware is out there.

Malware can be hidden within gamer-oriented content, such as files containing cheats, games, apps, mods, and updates. Malware is so not exclusive to gamers, but you don’t really see many people downloading mods or cheats for Excel. Basically, any kind of malware can be hidden within gamer-oriented content. And without antivirus you might never even know if your device got infected.

Data breaches and leaks

Data breaches against web services lead to user credentials being exposed. This way attackers can get their hands on massive amounts of user accounts. User accounts include valuable personal data such as phone numbers, billing details and email addresses. These can be used for identity theft. Data breaches and leaks can also lead to account takeover, but more on that later. Data breach and data leak – what’s the difference? Read here! >>

Typically, when criminals know what user credentials you use for different online services (for example gaming platforms and forums), they’ll try the same credentials for any other account they find interesting. This is because most people reuse the same login credentials in many accounts, which makes breaking into them easier. >>

Account takeover

Account takeover happens when an attacker gets unauthorized access to an account and changes the login credentials. To do this, the attackers first have to steal login credentials with malware or through data breaches and leaks.

You can lose access to your games for example in Steam and other platforms, if attackers hijack your account. Losing an account is bad on itself, but it’s even worse, if it includes games, skins, DLC, and other valuable content. The attacker can try to trade the contents for profit or for their own use.

Account takeover can also lead to identity theft, if the account includes personal details such as home address, name, phone number, credit card number, etc. Read more about account takeover >>

Identity theft and impersonation can ruin a rising star.

Want to be a vlogger or an e-sports athlete? Identity theft can make things really difficult for your reputation. Not only that, but identity theft can also lead to financial damages. With stolen personal information criminals can buy goods and take loans in your name. Personal information for identity theft can easily be stolen with malware, data breaches and phishing.

Phishing and social engineering

Phishing links can be sent through game chats. These links can take you to fraudulent login pages. In these pages you might accidentally give your login credentials or other personal info to criminals. Social engineering is a more active process than phishing, and it involves someone interacting with you in order to fool you.

These methods are used to trick you into downloading harmful content, giving personal information, and trade scams. In a trade scam someone gets you to trade items with them with deception. This ends up with you getting a worse deal than you thought.

Learn more about gaming-related threats from KOVA Esports’ podcast on Spotify >>

How do you then make your gaming more secure?

Gaming-related threats aren’t inherently different from any other online threats. The difference lies mostly in the channels they are spread. That’s why the security measures are quite universal. Here are a few things you can do for secure gaming and online life.

1. Antivirus

It’s very unlikely you stop downloading games, mods etc. just because it might be dangerous. But remember that any downloaded file can contain malware. Antivirus blocks malware from entering your computer. Even if you download malicious content, you’ll be protected. Antivirus keeps your device running free of viruses, trojans, spyware and ransomware.

2. 2FA (2-Factor authentication)

Often the only thing that protects your online and gaming accounts and the information within is a username and password combination. If this information gets exposed in, for example, a data breach, the risk of account takeover and identity theft increases. 2FA, like Steam Guard, adds a second layer that is available only to you. This way if an attacker steals your login credentials, your account is safe. Read more about 2FA >>

3. Strong and unique passwords

Related to the previous, unique passwords protect your accounts. If an attacker steals the password used for one account, they can’t get into any other accounts. Combine unique passwords with 2FA and your accounts and all the content and personal data is well-protected against account takeover. Get a password manager to help you remember and use your unique passwords.

4. Be aware of phishing

It’s often difficult to tell what is phishing and what is not. But it’s good to remember that any link can take you to a phishing site. Therefore, it’s important to be on your guard and not just open anything. Don’t open links sent by random profiles or any source you don’t trust. Phishing links can also be sent in emails from credible-looking sources- It’s a good practice to think twice before opening anything – is it really what it says it is?

5. Get prepared for trade scams

There is no reason you need to react to trade offers quickly. Take your time, and make sure you know who you are trading with, and what you are trading. Valve has pretty good tips for awareness about trade scams on their page. >>

 

These tips are good to remember outside gaming-related context as well. Similar threats exist outside the gaming world. Similar tricks are used in other channels. After all, criminals are after the same things. It’s up to you to decide if you want to be prepared against the threats or take your chances.

F-Secure SAFE – the best antivirus for gaming PC

If you want gaming-optimized internet security, then the award-winning F-Secure SAFE is your choice. SAFE includes Gaming mode which optimizes performance for smooth and secure gaming experience. All updates, scans and notifications are postponed, which releases more bandwidth and capacity for gaming.

SAFE protects you from malware, blocks malicious websites and secures your online shopping and banking. Awarded for its security and speed, it’s the perfect choice for gamers. Check it out! >>

Luciano Hernández

26.03.21 5 min. read

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