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How to Stay Safe from Hackers Whilst Online Gaming

by Kevin Bellah
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Gaming online, like any other online activities you engage in like shopping or emailing, is rife with hackers looking to get one over on you. So, how can you avoid it?

When you’re gaming online, you must make sure you’re taking the right precautions to protect your data from hackers. You can, of course, make a claim if your personal data has been breached to receive compensation. However, it’s best to nip it in the bud by taking preventative measures.

In this post, we’re going to help you avoid an online gaming data breach by giving you some tips on protecting yourself from hackers. Before we do that, however, we’re going to briefly cover what these data breach threats actually look like.

What Are the Risks When Gaming Online?

Security threats when gaming online usually fall into a few very distinct categories which you need to be aware of. These include:

1. Infection

This data issue only takes place when you try to buy a cheaper or free version of a game to save money. The files you download could be infected with malware and viruses.

These viruses aren’t only on illegally downloaded games, they also extend to cheat codes, items bought through third-party sellers, and even security gaps in the legal and above-board version of a game.

2. Active listening

Having your microphone, camera or screen capture actively listening you could be leaving yourself open to someone taking your personal information. If you mention anything personal with the mic on, or accidentally show something on your screen, it could be snatched.

3. Account takeover

If you use the same password for multiple accounts, and a hacker gets hold of it, you could end up giving them access to lots of your online accounts. This means that, even if you don’t have credit/debit information on your gaming account, the hackers could get it elsewhere.

4. Swatting and doxing

Doxing is when the hacker publishes your home address and phone number online, and swatting is when they call a fake emergency to your house and a swat team shows up. Swatting and doxing can only take place once someone has already gained access to your personal information.

How Can You Keep Your Data Safe When Gaming Online?

So, now we have an idea of the types of threats hackers pose when you’re gaming online, it’s time to share some solutions.

1. Don’t broadcast your personal information

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Your account doesn’t always need to be hacked for someone to access your personal information.

Using your real name on your account, your birthday, or any other personal information is an open invitation to someone who is on the lookout for it. Also, telling people you’ve met online what your name is and where you live could leave you open to bad actors as well.

The best way to avoid this and stay safe whilst online gaming is to keep your account/username free of identifying information. Only share personal details with online friends you’ve known for a while who you genuinely trust, if that.

2. Choose a unique and secure password

One of the simplest ways to stay safe when gaming online is to create strong and unique passwords. Most people choose not to do this out of convenience; using the same password for everything that’s just a memorable word with ‘123’ at the end is easier.

If your password isn’t strong, though, there’s a much greater chance that a hacker could figure it out. If you use the same password for all your accounts, they’ll have access to everything once they know that password.

Of course, creating a bunch of complicated passwords and writing them down in a notebook isn’t inconvenient, but it’s a necessary evil if you want to stay safe whilst online gaming.

3. Use two-factor authentication

If you’ve already come to accept the inconvenience of creating strong passwords, you might as well go all the way and activate two-factor authentication. 

Typically, you log in with your password as normal and a text message is sent to your phone number with a verification code. Most online gaming services and platforms offer this level of security, which is essentially the requirement for two pieces of identification to log into your account.

This means that any online ne’er-do-wells would need to have your phone number as well as your password to access any of your accounts. This provides you with an extra layer of security. 

4. Use a high-quality VPN

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Another way to stay safe online that requires a little more passive effort than strong passwords, two-factor authentication, and keeping quiet about your personal info is downloading a good VPN.

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, reroutes your internet connection through a secure server. This essentially masks your identity, keeping it safe from hackers and other internet entities.

It’s a good idea to use a quality VPN for your computer and your mobile phone, especially if you log into public Wi-Fi networks whilst gaming on your phone. Public Wi-Fi is typically unencrypted, making it really easy for hackers to access your personal information.

The one downside to VPNs is that all the good one’s cost money. You can get free VPNs that offer some level of protection, but nowhere near the level of the paid ones. Also, paid VPNs have faster internet speeds, which you’ll likely need when you’re gaming online.

5. Only download from reputable sources

This last tip is more to do with purchasing games than actual online gaming, but it’s worth mentioning. As we said in the last section of this post, illegal game downloads, third-party add-ons, and even holes in the security of legal games, can have malware attached to them.

It’s always tempting to get a game for half the market value, especially if you’re confident the copy will work, but that cheap price comes with an added risk. Try adding legal games to your watchlist on Steam, or bookmarking them to see if they go down in price naturally. 

Are These the Only Things You Can Do to Stay Safe Whilst Online Gaming?

In this post, we’ve discussed what threats look like in the world of online gaming, and shared five important tips on staying safe. There will be more tips out there but, if you follow the five we’ve shared in this article, you should enhance your protection from many hackers in the online gaming world.

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