Wherever there is opportunity for exploration on the web there will be cyber criminals, and online gaming has become a huge target for these criminals over the past decade.
Online gaming allows millions of people, from all over the world, to play their favorite games together. Rather we play on our phones, computers, or consoles, anyone can log on. And even if the game we are playing doesn’t require an internet connection while running, many of us now download our games from the internet initially and require updates intermittently. So how can someone avoid the threats that come with online gaming? These tips will help you stay more secure while beating levels and conquering kingdoms.
1. Stay Anonymous
It’s better to avoid posting pictures and personal information on online gaming platforms. Doing so could make you a target for someone looking to take advantage. It is becoming harder to remain anonymous online, but it’s important to be as vague as possible when you are sharing your PII with the public.
If you are harassed by another player report them. Do not engage, but do keep a record of what they say and/or do. Even if a fellow gamer seems nice, remember, you do not know who they are behind the screen. If anyone asks you for your private information it’s a red flag.
Extra tip: if your child plays online games that requires a headset and live voice chat use a voice disguiser. This will help prevent harassment one might face as a younger player. You can also change the game’s settings to disable voice chat altogether.
2. Avoid Downloads Containing Viruses and Worms
Think twice before downloading a game for “free” from the internet. You may think you’ve found a way around paying for your entertainment, but there’s a chance you may be downloading something malicious to your computer instead. Is saving a few bucks really worth an infected computer? Definitely not.
You also may receive an email, chat room message, or forum message from a fellow gamer containing a download. Avoid your curiosity and do not download! Player created modifications, even for games that you play offline, may seem like a fun idea but instead of a new costume for your character you might end up with a virus instead.
3. Do Not Join an Insecure Gamer Server
As with anything connected to internet servers, online games are vulnerable to being compromised. If a server is accessed by cyber criminals your computer could be compromised as well. These cyber criminals would gain access to your computer, your PII, and other devices connected to your network.
Be confident in the games you play online, research them beforehand and read reviews from other players! If you really want to avoid insecure servers, try playing the game in offline mode if it’s an option. If you really, really want to avoid insecure servers you can always go back to the good old days of CD-roms and cartridges.
4. Steer Clear of Cheating and Cheaters
Someone will always find a way to cheat the system. Players looking to get ahead may use mods or bots to boost their profiles/characters, exploit errors in the game’s code, or use real currency to purchase in-game items. You may not be the type of player to seek out these type of shortcuts, but often others will come to you with dubious offers. If an offer seems too good to be true, steer clear. Report other players who ask you for money in exchange for anything virtual. Even if you’re comfortable using cheats online purchases can often be scams!
Plus, if you’re caught cheating you account could be suspended or banned.
5. Take Breaks!
It’s easy to get sucked into a virtual world, but give your eyes a break and turn off the screen. Push pause on your game, walk around, shower, and eat a healthy meal. Your body and brain will thank you! Plus, your decision making process will be more clear with breaks. Don’t let dedication to a fictional reality lower your security defenses. If something online seems shady to you, get up, walk away, and think it through before acting.