Keeping your online accounts safe and secure is critical to the modern, digitally-interconnected world. As more and more people enjoy gaming to relax and connect socially, how do you ensure your gaming accounts are as safe as your social media, online banking, and other digital presences? Here are some tips.
The Power of a Name
For some, the idea we need to protect gaming accounts may be new. After all, don’t many of us use gaming handles? How could our latest antics in Call of Duty or Elden Ring affect our real-life security? Using commonly used passwords is never wise, but it doesn’t matter so much here. As a general rule, using 1-2-3-4-5 is never a good idea.
Yet even something as innocuous as the gaming tag or screen name can hold a lot of personal information, from our nicknames to our birth year. And it’s important to remember that modern hackers are smart. They’re not relying on just one source of information about it. Instead, they use each data link to match us with further information on black market data broker sites, using that collective info to build a frighteningly comprehensive picture of us.
Additionally, modern game accounts hold a lot of money. Many of us even have Paypal, credit cards, or other payment methods linked to our accounts. And where better to find IT-savvy, hacking-capable people than a gaming community?
Game account hacking has become a lucrative business. How can you avoid becoming another statistic?
Multi-factor Authentication for Online Gaming Account
Yes, you’ve heard it before- but it does start here. A robust 8-16 digit password, rich in capitals, small letters, numbers, and special characters (and lean in personal information), can make all the difference. Power it up with dual-layer security through multi-factor authentication; you have more security than most. While some game platforms allow you to enable phone-based two-factor authentication, encrypted authenticator apps can also be used to achieve the same thing, possibly more safely. And if you struggle to remember tough passwords, you can use a password manager to help. There are many safe (and encrypted) ones you can use.
Avoid Public Wifi
Being able to hop on an online game while waiting in the queue may seem like a dream- but it can fast become a nightmare. For those who work or even interact with social media on public wifi, you can often use a trusted, encrypted VPN to bypass the data theft risk of open networks, but many games will not let you play with VPNs due to in-game hacking and cheating concerns, so it may be better avoiding public wifi networks entirely.
No, we don’t mean to avoid making online friends! But remember that you know nothing about the person on the other side of that cute gamer handle. Anyone can say anything online. Be careful with what you reveal about yourself, and never send sensitive data, account information, and photos to people online.
Phishing attacks to gain access to gaming accounts are frighteningly familiar. Either via sending spoofed emails claiming to be from the gaming company to your email, hoping to lure you into clicking dud links, or using paid bad actors and even surprisingly convincing bots to entice you into oversharing through friendly connections.
And whatever you do, unlink your social media profiles. Yes, many games are pushing for social integration, and many offer in-game incentives. But this only helps cyber criminals extract the maximum data possible. If you can’t ignore the allure of those in-game rewards, consider using a dummy account with minimal information as an alternative. It is also wise to ensure you are using a separate email address for your gaming accounts, so should a breach occur, you can limit the damage. Be wary about in-person meetups from gaming communities, and take proactive steps to stay safe in the real world.
Stay Legit to Protect Online Gaming Account
We get it. The current game market has gotten frighteningly expensive, especially on the AAA gaming scene, and the urge to try cracks, hacks, and pirated software is powerful if you have FOMO. However, these same cracks are often littered with malicious malware and other harmful software, including backdoor viruses and trojans that can use your PC resources and open the door to other cybercrime attempts. And while the Indie game and mod scene is bustling, more than one keen gamer has had their gaming experience ruined by trusting the wrong startup company or mod developer.
Tough as it can be to resist the temptation, staying legit in your gaming activities and only working with trusted vendors is one of the best ways to stay safe online. And needless to say, taking over ‘free’ accounts, or purchasing black market accounts or items to get ahead in the game, is not the smartest idea you can have. Tempting as these offers may be, they ask for an unseen intrusion into your data safety.
Keep only Active Accounts Alive
Our gaming tastes come and go- but our data lives forever. If you’re no longer actively participating in a gaming environment due to a console upgrade or simple disinterest, don’t leave the account to wither in cyberspace. Take the time to unlink cards, payment methods, and other accounts, and shut the account down if you can. Scrub as much data as you can before declaring the account dead. Remember that inactive accounts are a severe security risk and can easily be hacked or breached without you even being aware.
And should you receive a notice of unusual activity on any account, or notice strange things happening, don’t simply leave it be. Take action immediately.
Staying safe and cultivating rewarding Online Gaming Account needn’t be mutually exclusive. With care and attention to detail, you can keep your gaming account safe and secure and still have fun online.