Whether you prefer Fortnite Battle Royale and World of Warcraft, or League of Legends and Candy Crush Saga, or eSports to recreational games, you can count on the fact that cybercriminals have a thing for gaming apps and communities.
Cybercriminals, like everyone else, love playing games and joining gaming networks. This has given rise to a whole host of gaming communities—and the potential for cyberattacks like identity theft and malware infection. Here are some tips to keep yourself safe from these threats.
1. Keep Your Personal Information Private
This may seem obvious, but many gamers share too much personal information when signing up for gaming accounts.
Disclosing personal details, such as your real name and phone number, email address, location, and username that includes Personally Identifiable Information (PII), leaves you open to attacks.
The more information you share online, the easier it is for cybercriminals to commit crimes against you, including identity theft, stalking, and data theft.
To hide your IP address when engaging in gaming communities, consider using a VPN.
2. Never Share Your Passwords
Gamers often share passwords to help each other advance levels or troubleshoot issues. Sharing passwords and account logins with a cybercriminal can lead to identity theft and account takeovers.
A threat actor can use your login credentials to access your account, steal your bank card details, or steal other personal information to commit identity fraud.
You can create a strong and unique password using a mixture of numbers, characters, and lower- and upper-case letters. Remember to change it frequently. Alternatively, use a password manager to generate, store, and update passwords.
3. Don’t Buy Cheat Codes
It can be hard to reach the next level, as most games are designed to be challenging. Cheat codes enable gamers to skip monotonous and time-consuming gameplay, allowing you to level up faster and progress through the game.
Some gaming communities allow members to buy codes to cheat on a video game on their site. Cybercriminals see cheat-code-seekers as a susceptible lot they can trick into buying malware-filled cheat code files.
Note that many video games include rules that prohibit cheating. Video game companies often cite copyright infringement in lawsuits against cheats.
4. Avoid Trade Scams
In trade scamming, scammers are usually interested in hijacking user accounts, stealing virtual wealth, and gaining a competitive advantage. Like cheat codes, trade scams occur when a community member deceitfully persuades you to exchange details like game keys for an expensive item or install remote desktop software.
To avoid trade scams, only accept trades from friends and verified users. Even then, you should be cautious because scammers can hack a verified account or use a name similar to that of your friend to scam you.
Also, beware of warning signs like multiple trade requests, sellers pressuring you into the transaction (or rushing your decision), and those offering to move the discussion elsewhere.
5. Don’t Open Attachments
Some gaming communities allow members to send each other resources like an attachment with cheat codes. However, it’s possible that an attachment is from a questionable source and is infected with malware, so don’t download unsolicited attachments and be cautious of messages from unknown users.
6. Don’t Click Suspicious Links
Gaming communities provide a platform for discussing ideas and sharing information, including links to other gaming sites and forums.
Cybercriminals often try to get gamers to click links by offering cheat codes, hacks, and other ways of gaining an advantage beyond normal gameplay.
Don’t click suspicious and unsolicited links, as they could be phishing attempts that may result in account theft. Also, consider using antivirus software to protect your device should you download a malicious attachment.
7. Report Malicious Activity
Some “gamers” will join gaming communities solely to cyberbully others or groom vulnerable gamers. Report such individuals as this can make gaming communities unpleasant places for gamers to interact.
Also, if you fall victim to a video game scam or witness one, notify the gaming community host to prevent harm to other members.
Engage in Gaming Communities Safely and Securely
While gaming communities can be beneficial for sharing tips and tricks, they have the potential to be unsafe. If a gaming community doesn’t have mechanisms to protect members, you may be at risk of being hacked or having your personal information compromised.
Cybercriminals, for example, target gaming communities to spread scams and commit crimes like stealing personal information, identity theft, and malware injection.