Video games are a huge part of people’s lives, in 2018 gamers accounted for 66% of the United States population. Over the years the total number of gamers has increased steadily and as video games and technology continue to advance it’s likely that this trend will continue well into the future.
Source @ statista
While video games are usually about having fun and being an escape from reality, the unfortunate reality is that many people use these platforms as a means to steal people’s information. In order to access online video games people register with a lot of personal information such as name, address, country, city and in many cases their credit card information to buy games online. When you combine this with the fact that many young people are usually behind the controller who are less aware of things like identity theft and credit card fraud you have the potential for a lot of scams and fraud to occur. Here are the top 5 reasons why gamers need to think of about their privacy when playing games online:
1. Credit cards
Most online purchases for video games are done via credit card and this can easily lead to fraud if the child gives the credit card information to a malicious website or simply uses it without the parent’s knowledge. Many times children can be convinced to purchase things online if they are promised that what they are buying will give them a competitive advantage or even cosmetic appearances for their online characters. Depending on the credit card limit this can cost parents thousands of dollars and if the child did it willingly then you may not be able to get a reimbursement from the bank. For example hackers in playstation network online forums claimed to have acquired up to 2.2 million credit cards back in 2011.
2. Impersonation/Stolen Accounts
If you have a habit of talking to people online through your mic then you may unknowingly give people enough information to steal your account. If someone is able to talk you into giving out your password then it makes it very easy, but also if they are able to get you to answer certain questions then the person can call into the company’s support center, pretend to be you and have them transfer your account to that person’s email address. It’s important that you don’t give out any information about yourself to people you don’t know to prevent them from impersonating you and stealing their account. Now the damage isn’t just limited to them stealing your account, even without you talking to someone online. Oftentimes people’s profiles are linked to their social media or other online accounts and this information can be used to steal someone’s identity. In Ireland 100s of accounts were stolen right around the time that the playstation 5 was released last year.
The internet gives people access to people thousands of miles away and while this can be a good thing it can also allow people to harass others. Especially for children, if they reveal too much information then people can find their social media profiles and harass them, try to get them to meet up with them by befriending them etc. You never know who you're dealing with when you meet people strictly online and this can put you in a bad situation. This is especially likely if your child streams video games online, if they reveal too much about who they are it will be easy for people to find them.
Source @ IT@sam
4. Downloading malware
If your child plays games on their laptop they are at an increased risk of accidentally downloading malware that is disguised as a video game or an add on for a video game. If you’re downloading video games it’s important that you get them from official or established sites or you run the risk of downloading malware that could compromise your computer. One trend that we found is that games like world of warcraft (WOW) where people spend hundreds or thousands of hours of playing time are often a target for malware attacks because people know that they will pay to get their accounts back. Another example of this was in street fighter 5 where hackers were able to put malware into the game's software update so that anyone that downloaded the update was infected.
5. Phishing attacks
The last on this list is phishing attacks, now this is where someone will try to convince another person to perform an action (usually click a link or download an attachment) that will give the attacker access to the machine. Phishing is a popular type of attack and in a video game environment, especially massive multiplayer online (MMO) games where people are constantly communicating with each other, phishing attacks can be very effective. It’s easy for someone to slip in a link during a conversation saying that it’s related to the game or where someone can buy something for the game and that’s how someone can get infected.
How to get more free content
The government of Canada made a great article outlining privacy issues in online gaming and gives some good tips on how you can protect yourself online, you can read it here. If you like this article and would like to read more of our content for cybersecurity insights, tips and tricks feel free to follow us on getoppos social media. If you’re a struggling business owner who needs help in assessing their business’s cybersecurity posture feel free to take advantage of our free introductory assessment and we’ll help you figure out a game plan for keeping your company safe.