Thinking about security when you’re gaming isn’t on anyone’s priority list. Your first thought is how to ambush the enemy and get the MVP award for the match. Then, you might think of a snarky remark to someone writing some provocative things in the chat.
However, hackers can be lurking. There’s a good chance they’re trying to mine some information from you already. You can slip and say your real name and email, which can be brute-forced if you have a weak password. Once a hacker knows your IP address, you can say bye to your credit card because someone else will be using it too.
Luckily, there are a couple of ways to be protected. Of course, you need to do all of these things before starting gaming. You don’t want to be thinking about security when you’re in the heat of a killstreak. Let’s start.
Double-check what you’re downloading
We all want to play the games we grew up with. Going to school and working makes it impossible to devote time to hobbies. But when you finally get some space, you might want to turn to classics like Age of Empires, Assassin’s Creed II, or a casual Super Mario run. Since these games are old and cracked, downloading pirated versions might cross your mind. It’s only for a couple of days. Nothing will go wrong, right?
Most pirated games are filled with malware, especially the old ones. The same thing is true about mods and cheats about modern ones. If you download anything from an untrustworthy source, you’re risking your device’s safety and personal information. Don’t make it easy for cybercriminals.
If you’re a parent and your kid’s using your device to game, teach them about some fundamentals when it comes to downloading files and navigating the net. They might use your Steam account to log in on a site and download some files hoping to get some free CS: GO skins. But they will only get scammed, and your credit card could be drained.
Don’t use sensitive info as a username
Usernames exist to make it harder for people to identify you in the real world. When you’re gaming, you can pretend to be anyone you want. Pick a character from a movie, anime, or book. Just don’t use your real name, surname, and age. If you include actual information, then predators can try to contact you via email or try to make a phishing attempt. A generic username is much better at keeping you anonymous.
When you see someone trying to be intrusive or behaving suspiciously, report them or block them. Using these functions will protect you and other gamers from being attacked.
Be careful when sharing personal info
A lot of things can slip out when you’re gaming. And no, we’re not talking about the insults when you’re raging. Instead, it’s about sharing personal information. There have been hundreds of heartwarming YouTube videos of gamer friends meeting in real life after a few years of playing together. The bond you feel with a fellow gamer is special because you’ve been through thick and thin.
However, thousands have been scammed or robbed for every hundred people who have forged a lasting friendship. The boy from a high school across town might be a 30-year-old man who got out of prison a month ago. Meeting with them in real life or adding a fake profile might cause a lot of trouble down the road.
You should be extremely careful when you’re at a party with a couple of your real friends. That way, you could be talking about homework or where you’re going for the weekend. You don’t know whether the rest of your lobby is safe. Sharing information about your school, neighborhood, or places you visit the most could be exploited.
Use a strong password
Everyone knows that you need a different password for everything. Plus, it needs to have uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters. We’re all theoretical experts, but we tend to fall behind in practice. It’s much easier to use the exact phrase on Facebook, Gmail, and your Epic Games account. But if one of the accounts gets breached, all of the other ones get compromised.
One of the best ways to approach passwords is to use a manager. You will only need to remember one and keep all of them stored in the application.
Use a fast VPN
Using the fastest VPN won’t make a difference in your browsing speed or FPS, but you’ll be much safer online. If you’re at the airport in a foreign country and your flight will be a few hours late, it makes sense to pull up your phone and bust out a few League of Legends matches. However, connecting to an unsecured public network can only cause trouble. Cybercriminals can breach the communication and eavesdrop on your device. Spying on your passwords and credit card details can help them steal your identity or money.
VPNs use advanced technology to encrypt your IP address and make it impossible for your data to get breached. Now, you might think that since it’s a one-time thing, you can just use a free service when connecting to a public Wi-Fi.
Even though it sounds like a good idea, you’ll probably want to break your phone in the first few minutes of playing. Free services are slow, and they limit your bandwidth usage. They’re trying to make you pay for the real deal by giving you limited access.
Since that’s the case, it’s better to go with paid services right from the start. You’ll be on the safe side, knowing that you can use the same VPN protection on multiple devices. It doesn’t matter if you’re a part of the glorious PC master race subculture or a console gamer. The same thing is true about using your laptop, phone, or tablet. Ultimately, your gaming experience will be safe, streamlined, and without interruptions. That’s all that matters.