Gamers are concerned about online security more than ever, says McAfee. According to a recent survey conducted by the malware protection company, nearly 75 percent of gamers worry about gaming security in the future.
The participants in the survey were 1,000 U.S. residents over the age of 18 who described themselves as frequent gamers. Each participant spent at least $200 annually on online games.
Their worries are not unfounded. About 63 percent of the survey participants said they had either suffered a cyber-attack personally or knew someone who had. This data indicates that the average gamer could experience as many as 5 cyber-attacks when playing online.
A vast majority of gamers in the survey—83 percent—took steps to protect their computers, such as by installing malware protection software. But as the survey found, a majority of participants engaged in what McAfee calls “risky only behavior.”
Examples of such risky behavior include reusing passwords. As much as 55 percent of participants in the survey reused passwords between various online accounts. Only 41 percent actually read the privacy policies of the games they played. The majority was not aware of the data collection practices of the gaming companies.
A significant 36 percent of gamers relied on private browsing or incognito mode of their browsers to keep their computers safe when playing online. Private browsing can prevent storing of cookies or halt trackers on some websites. However, this mode does not protect browsers against cyber-attacks. Neither does this mode make players “anonymous” online to prevent identity theft.
Though players took steps such as installing anti-virus protection to keep their PCs safe, such steps don’t protect players on handheld devices. Most PC games today have accompanying mobile apps to extend gameplay on the go. Players may not undertake the necessary steps to protect hacking attempts and data theft on these devices.
To adequately protect a device from cyber-attacks, cybersecurity experts recommend that gamers follow these steps:
Use Unique Passwords
Experts strongly caution against reusing passwords between accounts. It might help gamers remember multiple passwords, but a hacking attempt on one account could compromise the security of all other accounts. It’s recommended to use unique passwords for each account. When resetting the password, always use a new one and never reuse an old password, even if it’s years old.
Mind Unknown Players
Gamers should be cautious when interacting with unknown players on gaming platforms. Do not click on links sent via unknown accounts.
Check Email Addresses
To avoid phishing attacks and similar malware, gamers should be cautious when sending private information via email. Always check the email address to make sure it came from the gaming company. The support section for games usually has tips on how to verify emails from companies.
If the gaming company offers authentication options, such as two-step verification, it’s recommended to take full advantage. Verify your account with a mobile number if possible.
Gamers should also keep games updated. Use security solutions proposed by the gaming companies (as long as the company is not promoting a third-party product).
As online gaming becomes more popular than ever, it’s to be expected that cyber threats would increase. Gamers should thus take every necessary step to protect their devices.
About the Author: Ollie Mercer
Ollie Mercer is a professional tech blogger based in California. He covers a variety of IT-related topics including hardware, devices, and cybersecurity. Ollie has an academic background in tech and has worked in the industry for years before he became a freelancer.