Wherever there’s something worth having or investing money in, thieves and scammers will abound. This is no different for games, which have increased in both scope and popularity over the years. Over 2.7 billion gamers are now hitting away at their computers, consoles, and mobile devices worldwide. Gaming is huge.
The thing is, games cost money, have in-game currencies that are valuable, and storefronts make thousands of sales every day. And then there are all the accounts one has to create on different stores, platforms, and websites to buy and play games. These are all reasons why gamers are ripe for the picking if they aren’t careful.
Take a look at these common security vulnerabilities and scams that gamers face and how to K.O. them.
What to Look Out For
1. Phishing Scams
Phishing is probably one of, if not the biggest, threats to gamers worldwide. Thanks to smooth communication with pretty much anyone online during a game or on a gaming platform.
Scammers are prolific on popular platforms like Steam, Xbox chat, and PSN live chat. From offering fake skins for popular games on Steam to fake girls messaging about live webcams on PSN. Popular chat apps like Discord don’t get overlooked either – bots started sending phishing messages to Discord channels en masse.
Usually, the main aim of this attack is to get people to click on a link that will infect their device with malware. Since many online games will prompt players to purchase various add-ons and upgrades (i.e. weapons, outfits, maps, etc.) it can be fairly easy to create a fake page mimicking that. Always do your due diligence and make sure that you use credit cards that offer fraud protection. Other times, as with the Steam example, the scammer pretends to be the official platform asking for login details or personal information.
2. Credential Stuffing
Simply put, credential stuffing is what happens when people reuse their passwords. Data breaches occur regularly these days, and cybercriminals use those digits on a wide range of accounts and platforms to see if they can get in. It includes gaming accounts like those on Battle.net, Steam, Epic Games, Origin, PSN, and Microsoft accounts (Xbox). If a person reuses the same password for different accounts and someone steals that password, they are at risk.
Besides gaining access to these accounts, thieves can also steal sensitive information like home addresses and credit card info.
A growing trend among cybercriminals involves creating fake games that resemble real ones but are just malware. Mobile gamers are especially at risk of falling victim to this, but there are plenty of phony downloadable games for PCs.
4. Cyberbullying / Swatting
Swatting is a new trend amongst irate “gamers” who decide to make a fake emergency phone call that directs authorities to their victim’s house. They usually make use of either social engineering or IP geolocation tools to figure out where their victim lives.
Not only is swatting illegal, but also at least one person has died because of it.
5. DDOS Attacks
Gaming servers and players themselves have become massive targets for DDOS attacks in recent years. This attack slows down a server or computer by overwhelming it with requests. But it can also cause games to crash entirely.
Want to know how visible and discoverable your device is? Type “what is my IP” into a search bar right now or simply visit this page. Knowing an IP address of the victim is often enough to target them with DDOS.
Tips for Preventing Attacks That Target Gamers
Scammers and hackers rely on a variety of gimmicks to steal gamers’ accounts or in-game assets, use their credit cards, or even steal their identities. But there are a few basic principles that anyone can follow to level up their security stat, like the following:
- Use strong passwords, and don’t reuse any passwords across different accounts. Make use of a password manager, if needed, to keep track of passwords.
- Always enable two-factor authentication for accounts.
- Use a VPN while connected to the internet to hide the device’s IP address. After installing and turning a VPN on, try to look up your IP again and see what comes up. It will be a completely different IP address that doesn’t give away anyone’s location or identity.
- Be aware of what phishing scams look like, and don’t click on any unfamiliar links, even sent by friends. Never click on links or reply to requests especially sent by strangers.
- Don’t reply to messages or emails that ask for passwords or to confirm login details.
Usually, the biggest concerns for gamers revolve around things like their CPU, GPU, and gaming peripherals. Playing online also means getting the best available connection to avoid those frame drops and lag issues that can turn a win into a rage quit instead. But there’s one other area that every gamer should take seriously: online security. Be aware of the threats out there and take steps to avoid them.