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How to Stay Safe and Secure When Online Gaming

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Playing video games online with your friends is a lot of fun. However, it only takes one encounter with a sufficiently malicious party to put your identity and security at risk. In a moment, a seeming peer in the online gaming community could take advantage of your lack of security, stealing your identity, doxing you, bullying you online, or worse.

You don’t need to build a digital fortress for yourself, but you should at least practice cybersecurity fundamentals to keep yourself safe, recommends Cetaris.

How to Stay Safe and Secure When Online Gaming

These are some of the most important strategies to stay safe and secure when online gaming.

·       Never openly reveal personal identifiable information (PII). Avoid revealing any personally identifiable information (PII) online through your interactions, whether they occur through in-game chat, post-game chat, or in a third-party app. Don’t reveal your full name, your address, your phone number, or more sensitive information like credit card numbers or your Social Security number. You should also avoid giving clues to these identifying pieces of information; for example, don’t talk about major unique landmarks in your city or imply that you live next to a lake.

·       Choose a cryptic username. Whenever possible, choose a cryptic username. Don’t simply insert your first name or last name, and certainly don’t use meaningful strings of numbers (like your birthday) as part of your username.

·       Practice good password habits. Use good password habits across all accounts relevant to gaming and online interactions. That means choosing long, complicated passwords with a mix of different types of symbols. It means using a different password for every account. It also means making sure your passwords are scrambled, with no clearly recognizable pattern or interpretable meaning. On top of that, you should never give your password to anyone.

·       Enable multifactor authentication. Multifactor authentication, or MFA, is a setting that requires multiple forms of authentication before access to your account is granted (read more). For example, in addition to providing a password, you may need to provide a one-time code sent to your phone or email address. Enable this setting for greater security.

·       Check and adjust your privacy settings. Throughout all your accounts, check and adjust your privacy settings to your liking. On many online gaming platforms, you’ll have the option to make yourself practically invisible to anyone who isn’t already connected to you as a friend. You may also choose to hide certain types of information to make yourself a harder target.

·       Use a VPN. In some cases, it makes sense to use a virtual private network (VPN). This isn’t a perfect security measure, but it can disguise your location and encrypt your network traffic, making it much harder to attack you.

·       Keep your equipment and software updated. Cybercriminals often take advantage of antiquated hardware and software, exploiting bugs that were patched out at a certain point. If you want to avoid becoming a victim of this angle of attack, keep all your hardware and software updated – and enable automatic updates so you don’t have to think about it.

·       Only buy and download from trusted sources. Gamers sometimes fall victim to malware attacks when buying or downloading something from a suspicious source. Only buy or download from sources you genuinely trust and can independently authenticate.

·       Pay attention to news from developers, publishers, and content creators. Developers, publishers, content creators, and other professionals in the industry often announce new threats, bugs, and scams when the information becomes available. Pay close attention to the news so you can learn about these threats as they unfold and take necessary precautions.

·       Learn about common scams. There are many types of scams that could affect an online gamer. Through social engineering (more info), clever criminals can attempt to gather your personal information and hijack your accounts without any technical knowledge whatsoever. The more you know about these scams, the easier it will be to avoid them.

·       Block people. Finally, don’t be afraid to block people. This feature exists for good reason. If anyone appears to be harassing you, asking you too many personal questions, or acting in a strange way, simply block them and refuse to interact any further.

Gauging Your Own Risk Tolerance

While all of these strategies are valuable for increasing your security, there are two important things you need to recognize. First, there’s no way to be 100 percent secure; no matter how much you do or how much effort you expend, there will always be a nonzero security risk involved in every online interaction. This shouldn’t stop you from enjoying yourself.

Second, not every strategy is absolutely essential for all people. Different people have different levels of risk tolerance and different levels of security exposure, so it’s up to you to gauge your risk tolerance and choose the strategies that seem to fit your needs most appropriately.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: April 11, 2024

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