The threat of cyber-attacks has permeated every aspect of our online lives, and the gaming industry is no different. Millions of us now enjoy logging in and letting off some steam in a virtual world, and you’d be surprised at just how much personal data is at risk. Your name, address, financial details, and credit card number are all vulnerable to cyber hackers, and many gamers can be complacent because they don’t expect an attack during their downtime.
That’s why we’re on hand to walk you through the five best ways you can protect your online identity and stay safe when gaming.
Choose a Secure Password
This might sound obvious, but it’s such a simple step that’s overlooked by so many that it’s become a common vector of attack. Remember too that both Sony and Microsoft have been breached in the past, resulting in millions of gaming usernames and passwords being leaked. On top of ensuring that your password meets minimum complexity requirements, containing upper and lower case letters as well as numbers and symbols, you should also ensure that you regularly change it. This should especially be the case when a large company breach occurs.
Use a VPN
A virtual private network, or VPN, is a tool that reroutes your internet connection through a secure server. As part of this process, it masks your identity and hides your online activity from your internet service provider or any would-be snoopers.
VPNs really come into their own when protecting you while you’re connected to public WiFi. As many of these connections aren’t encrypted, hackers may be able to access your data if you don’t use one. VPNs often come packed with military-grade encryption technology, making it almost impossible for anyone to read or steal your information. Most decent VPN providers use a no-log policy, which means none of your activities will be recorded either.
However, you should be aware that using a VPN can sometimes slow down your connection, so you’ll want to find a reliable provider that has a reputation for handling HD gaming.
Avoid Pirated Games
Not only is pirating software illegally, but it’s also one of the most common ways gamers can find their devices infected with malware or spyware. Hackers can install keyloggers to find out your passwords, and lock or encrypt your files alongside a whole host of other malicious activities.
You risk being hacked and you won’t get access to any official security patches or game updates from the developers since you aren’t using a legitimate copy of a game. Plus, you could be plagued with bugs, glitches or crashes as a result of damaged or corrupted code.
In fact, some game developers are even building malicious codes into their own games that will trigger if a pirated game is played, causing it to crash. The bottom line is, it’s just not worth it.
Avoid Using Personal Information
Where you can, you should avoid using any personal information in your online gaming activities. This means not using your real name on any public-facing parts of your account, and not revealing any personal data in any live chats.
Hackers can start to build a profile of victims from even just limited pieces of personal data. Make sure you don’t give away your name, address, location or date of birth, and stay on your toes when talking to strangers. Keep your username unique, and you might want to use a separate email account for gaming.
Consider Identity Theft Insurance
It never hurts to be prepared, and you might consider getting your hands on identity theft insurance. You can check out this Zander identity theft review, or browse a whole range of reasonably priced insurance companies offering comprehensive coverage.
For just a few dollars per month, you can protect against synthetic identity theft, have your whole family covered, and access a range of various recovery services if you’ve suffered financial loss. Of course, this is a worst-case scenario, but it’s good to know that there’s protection out there.
This type of insurance usually has the added bonus of covering other types of identity theft too, so all of your online activities will be covered.