Cybersecurity and online gaming: Don’t be a victim

February 23, 2021 | Kate Brew

Theresa Lanowitz collaborated on this blog.

Introduction

The proliferation of technology and internet connectivity has made it possible for people to seek out most things online, and gaming and gambling are not exceptions. In addition to online video games, social media, music, and video streaming, there are also online casinos and gambling for real money. Well, for gambling in the USA there are state laws to mind, but in some states online gambling is permitted.

Many players have registered on online gaming and gambling sites to enjoy the action right in their homes or wherever they may be (although with COVID-19, people may be stuck at home more than they want.) The demand for VIP membership to online casinos is rising. With online gambling in particular, on top of cybersecurity awareness and safe practices, there is the additional need to review and find the  online casinos with a good reputation, and robust online security. Check for scams related to a new site.  Anything involving money gets the attention of cyber criminals.

The popularity of online games on marketplaces is growing. You can play for free, but many fun features are offered “for fee”. The rest of the article will focus on online gaming, as that’s legal pretty much everywhere.

Risks and threats in online gaming  

As you enjoy your gaming session, you need to know the risks involved to take precautions and highly secure your data from unauthorized access. The most common threats to online gamers include the usual lineup:

Computer viruses

Almost all internet users have encountered computer viruses, as they are quite common. It’s pretty basic, but antivirus is basic protection against old, known attacks. Opening unsolicited emails, downloading free software, and sharing devices like flash disks are ways viruses  can infiltrate your computer.

Ransomware attacks

Online gamers need to bear in mind they are subject to infection with ransomware. A tell-tale sign that your computer is under attack from ransomware is when you cannot access your files unless you pay a hefty ransom. 

Phishing scams & Identity theft

Say you receive an email from an online gaming outfit you’ve played on before with a neat offer. How can you be sure it’s really from them and not a phishing attack? Phishing attacks happen when cybercriminals mimic trustworthy individuals or institutions to obtain private information like passwords. With the stolen information, these criminals can access your credit, use your identity to open bank accounts, make PIN changes, or even sell your identity to con artists.

Spyware

If you’re dealing with a disreputable online gaming operation, especially if the service is free, they might be spying on you and selling your personal information. Spyware does precisely what spies do; studying your every move and action while using the internet without your permission.  Your browsing history quickly finds its way to third parties, which is a serious privacy breach.

Trojan malware

Especially when you download executables from a site – there is a very real danger they might bring Trojans with them, or legitimate executables may have been replaced with Trojans. Trojan viruses resemble real software and are some of the most common tools used by cybercriminal networks. They have been notably used by criminals on webcams to watch their targets' movements and gather vital information.

How to help protect yourself against cybercrime when using online gaming

Thanks to the internet, the world is now a global village, and staying away is not an option. Arguably you could stay away from online gaming. But what fun would that be? On the bright side, there are many ways to help mitigate your risks and have a safer online experience.

Use a reliable Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Virtual Private Networks are a must-have tool, whether you are protecting your home or office network. They conceal crucial information like your location, IP address, history, activity, and digital devices, making them a very strong  security measure against identity theft threats.

Install antivirus software on your computers

Antivirus software scan for known viruses and prompt you to take action once they find a threat. They indicate the infected files and schedule regular scans to protect your computer. Also, reliable antivirus software will offer protection against ransomware, spyware, Trojans, and spam. However, antivirus software only deals with known threats, and nothing is a total assurance.

Look out for suspicious emails and pop-ups

Opening unsolicited emails and pop-ups are like opening a Pandora box when it comes to cybersecurity. Anyone can target you through such emails and once you open them, there is no telling the level of damage that can occur, including phishing attacks.

Be safe using public Wi-Fi

Nowadays, public Wi-fi is available in almost all public spaces. While the allure of freebies in these harsh economic times may seem tempting, think again before you login in to play your favorite game, then use the same WiFi to  do some banking transactions. Cybercriminals have mastered the gaps in public Wi-Fi and will easily steal your personal information. If you have no other option, use a VPN for important transactions. Take good care with public WiFi.

Ditch Wi-Fi for your mobile network when handling private information

Your mobile phone can connect to the internet either through your cellular network or through Wi-Fi. You can configure your phone to automatically use known Wi-Fi if it’s available. What differentiates the two is that cellular networks are encrypted while Wi-Fi is not. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to use your mobile network when accessing private information like your bank account.

Create strong, long, unique passwords

Unique passwords for your online gaming and gambling accounts make the work of cybercriminals harder, locking them out of your accounts. Such passwords are long passphrases, following NIST guidance. Avoid using personal details like your date of birth or popular words like the names of celebrities that are easily guessed. Consider using one of the many available password managers for hassle-free password management and security.

Clear all information before selling or donating digital devices

Many people forget that their devices carry a good deal of personal information, including cached info and saved login credentials to your gaming and gambling accounts. For this reason, you need to provide that that all information is cleared before selling your device. Apart from applying factory reset, you can use a data destruction company to destroy your hard drive before giving it up for recycling.

Conclusion

Online gaming can be very enjoyable. But stay safe! Learning to  help protect  your data from cybercriminals will go a long way to providing you get the best out of your online experience. Enlisting a combination of these tools is the best approach for maximum online security. While it may prove a bit expensive to access all these tools, it can be much cheaper in the long run when you have less worries about losing your cash or personal details to online fraudsters.

Kate Brew

About the Author: Kate Brew

Kate has over 15 years experience in product management and marketing, primarily in information security.

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