There has been increasing popularity of online gaming among kids and teenagers. From esports to mini mobile games to fantasy kingdom games, love for online gaming among people is undeniable. According to a report, at least one child among 70% of American families plays video games. Another report states that, between the first two quarters of 2023, there has been an increase of 440 million in the volume of online gamers.
While online gaming provides entertainment and social interaction, it can also be a zone of cyber-attacks and cyberbullying. There was a huge increase in cyber-attacks on gaming organizations between 2021 and 2022. The estimated increase is around 340%.
Hackers and cyberbullies are leveling up in their games of attacking online gamers and also misusing the game data for their profits. There are different types of dangers that the world of online gaming is surrounded by. You can follow online safety tips for gaming in this blog. It will easily take you towards a risk-free online gaming experience.
What are the risks of online gaming?
It is important to have knowledge or awareness about the various security risks that you might encounter before you start logging in to your PC or mobile phone and navigating through the online gaming world.
Here are the top 7 risks that come with online gaming:
- Personal Information and Data Theft
- Problems with the Webcam
It is a practice in which the hackers install spiteful operations and software into a gaming account and steal personal information and even money by tricking the gamers. When a gamer clicks on any of the phishing links and fills in the information, the personal data gets stolen from the gaming account.
It is fun for the kids to enjoy the world of online gaming where they are anonymous. But this also acts as an invitation for cyber-bullying. It starts with some players who grieves other players by methods like ‘kill stealing’, chaining upper-level challenge groups, and blocking lower-level players’ progress. And slowly it progresses towards cyber-bullying where the target gamers are sent derogatory and hurtful messages or spamming them across the game’s global chat channels. This practice is also known as ‘whispering’.
- Personal Information and data theft
Online gamers, especially kids are targeted by hackers to get their personal information through various measures, and then to use it for malicious reasons. Hackers can choose the target child gamer and send them messages on private game chat to take out their personal information. They can also take out the data from the online games and then use the data to get access to the gamer’s personal social media accounts. In some cases, hackers can also use this data to create separate accounts in the name of the gamers and use their identity.
Another mistake that online gamers make is replacing their consoles or PCs, smartphones, and tablets without removing their personally uploaded data from the devices and sites. This can make their personal as well as financial information vulnerable to getting stolen and hacked.
Old gamers who target younger ones are the ones who can be called predators. They first build online relationships with the young gamers by forming teams with them to combat the enemy, or by becoming their defender. In this way, they slowly try to get their personal information. They make the young gamers feel that there is no other better friend than them. Not even in the real world. The predators can be dangerous, they can also send webcam chats, face-to-face meeting links, and inappropriate messages to young gamers which could lead to sexual crimes.
Hackers and cybercriminals can upload the spiked version of gaming apps on legitimate online markets like Google Play. These malicious apps can attack the software of gamers without connecting their online gaming to the attack. Infected software can also be converted into a collection of bots.
- Problems with the Webcam
Technological advancement has led to devices like laptops, mobile phones, tablets, etc. coming with inbuilt webcams. This has increased cybersecurity risks as hackers can easily control webcams by targeting internally or externally connected recording devices.
Security Tips for Online Gaming
Your online gaming experience should not be the reason for a threat to your safety and security. But that doesn’t mean that you will stop enjoying online gaming. Here is the security guide for online gaming which will easily lead you to a risk-free and secure online gaming experience:
- Strong Password
Keeping your passwords strong and complex will keep you on the winning side. Not only a strong password but also a unique one for each gaming account should be used. A strong password should be:
– Of 12 to 18 characters
– Should contain letters, symbols, and numbers
– Should have unknown and complex words
- Block the bullies
If you come across a player who is making you feel uncomfortable or using derogatory comments against you, then do not hesitate to block them. You can also report them to the game administrators. If the game has the feature of a block option for chats and messages from other users, then this option is a good choice for being safe and secure from cyber-bullies.
- Legitimate Websites
When it comes to online gaming, gaming websites also play a crucial role in safety and security. Visiting a gaming website that is not legitimate or trustworthy can lead you to the risk of hacking and cyber-attacks. It is better to get the whole information of the new game and get safety confirmation of the platform before you begin gaming on that platform.
Another way to check the authenticity of a website is to see if the gaming website is displaying a secure lock icon and has an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate has many benefits when it comes to safety and security as well as building trust with the website visitors.
Various cheap SSL certificates are available to provide a risk-free gaming experience to its visitors. It proves to be an affordable solution and provides advanced and trusted website security.
- MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication)
Also known as two-factor authentication. The games that come with Multi-Factor Authentication can provide the benefits of add-on security to the gamers. For example – With your regular gaming account passwords, the account will also include biometrics.
- Cautious clicking
Hackers use techniques like phishing to swipe your personal information through the links and codes. These links appear suddenly on your screen when you are into gaming. You need to remember to be cautious before you decide to click any random link that appears or any cheat code that is sent by a random account in your message box.
- Virtual Private Network (VPN)
One can use Virtual Private Network (VPN) to maintain privacy and safety while enjoying online gaming. It will hide their IP address and location and thus, it can be a safe measure for being secure from hackers and cybercriminals.
- Secure Transactions
If you are an online gamer, then you might be aware of the premium services that online games provide in exchange for some money. They provide certain gaming content and levels for free and after that point, they charge some amount for giving access to the full game features and the premium features.
If you have decided to access their premium option, then make sure to make the payments and transactions safely. You can choose your credit card instead of debit card. Credit cards have more consumer protection features and your money is insured against financial frauds.
- Check Privacy Settings
Trying out a new game? Wait, before you do that, open and check its security and privacy settings. You should set it up according to your level of comfort. You should not just adhere to the secure settings that the game makers default. They can put up with the least secure settings and if you go by that, then you might unknowingly agree to sharing your private information which you otherwise won’t do. For example – The game might share your location with the creator considering that you have agreed to share this information.
The online gaming world is witnessing rapid advancement and changes. With the increased popularity of online gaming, there is also an increasing security risk. It is not only about having fun and getting entertainment from online games. One cannot deny the importance of a secure online gaming experience. Hackers and cyber-criminals can easily make young players and children their target, especially when it comes to financial fraud, data and information misuse, sexual abuse, and identity theft. Children should be given proper information about these risks and the measures that they can take on their part to be safe from these risks. The priority should not be to just enjoy the online gaming experience, instead, it is to enjoy safe and risk-free online gaming.