Whether you prefer Fortnite Battle Royale and World of Warcraft, or League of Legends and Candy Crush Saga, or eSports over recreational gaming, you can count on the fact that cybercriminals have a thing for gaming apps and communities.
Cybercriminals, like everyone else, love to play games and join gaming networks. This has given rise to a whole host of gaming communities – and the potential for cyber-attacks such as identity theft and malware. Here are some tips to protect yourself from these threats.
1. Keep your personal information private
This may seem obvious, but many players 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 attack.
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 participating in gaming communities, consider using a VPN.
2. Never share your passwords
Players often share passwords to help each other advance levels or troubleshoot problems. Sharing passwords and account logins with a cybercriminal can lead to identity theft and account takeover.
A threat actor can use your 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 by using a mix of numbers, characters, and lower and upper case letters. Remember to change it often. Alternatively, you can use a password manager to generate, store and update passwords.
3. Don’t buy cheats
Reaching the next level can be difficult, as most games are designed to be challenging. Cheats allow players to skip monotonous and time-consuming gameplay, allowing you to level up faster and progress through the game.
Some gaming communities allow members to purchase codes to cheat on a video game on their site. Cybercriminals see cheat code seekers as a susceptible party they can trick into buying cheat code files filled with malware.
Note that many video games include rules that prohibit cheating. Video game companies often cite copyright infringement in lawsuits against cheaters.
4. Avoid trade fraud
In commerce fraud, fraudsters are usually interested in hijacking user accounts, stealing virtual wealth, and gaining a competitive advantage. Like cheats, trade scams occur when a community member fraudulently persuades you to exchange details such as game keys for an expensive item or install remote desktop software.
To avoid trade fraud, only accept trades from friends and verified users. Even then, you should be careful because scammers can hack a verified account or use a name similar to your friend’s to trick you.
Also, watch out for warning signs like multiple trade requests, sellers who push you into the transaction (or rush you into the decision), and those who offer to move the discussion elsewhere.
5. Do not open attachments
Some gaming communities allow members to send each other resources as an attachment with cheat codes. However, it is possible that an attachment comes from a questionable source and is infected with malware, so do not download unwanted attachments and be careful with messages from unknown users.
6. Do not click on suspicious links
Gaming communities provide a platform to discuss ideas and share information, including links to other gaming sites and forums.
Cybercriminals often try to get players to click on links by offering cheats, hacks, and other ways to gain an advantage over normal gameplay.
Do not click on suspicious and unwanted links, as they may be phishing attempts that can lead to account theft. Also, consider using antivirus software to protect your device if you download a malicious attachment.
7. Report malicious activity
Some “players” will join gaming communities solely to bully others or groom vulnerable players. Report such individuals as this can make gaming communities unpleasant places for players to interact.
Also, if you become a victim of a video game scam or witness one, you must notify the host of the gaming community 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 does not have mechanisms in place to protect its members, you may be at risk of being hacked or having your personal information compromised.
For example, cybercriminals target gaming communities to spread fraud and commit crimes such as stealing personal information, identity theft, and injecting malware.