Cybersecurity threats are on the rise no matter where you spend your time online, and gamers are at particular risk of being targeted because of the large and lucrative industry they support.
If you want to enjoy the latest gaming experiences as safely and securely as possible, here are a few of the biggest threats to be aware of and the ways to avoid falling victim to them.
Malware hidden in legitimate-looking apps & games
Whether you are a hardcore PC gamer or you do most of your gaming on your smartphone, malware is a persistent problem that you need to be aware of at all times.
From apps which ape the look of legitimate games but contain code designed to steal your personal details once installed, to malware embedded in hacking tools and even costly ransomware, there are lots of potentially harmful pieces of software out there at the moment.
The best way to overcome this is to have a strategy for acquiring apps and stick to it. Just like you can win big by learning the best craps strategy, you can keep your private data safe from malicious third parties by being rigorous in avoiding dodgy downloads.
Only use legitimate platforms like Steam and the Epic Games Store to buy games, never download apps from sites that are not trusted or explicitly confirmed as legitimate by reputable third party reviewers and always steer clear of mobile apps that have poor user feedback and other known issues.
Social engineering used to extract personal info
While cyber attacks can afflict game servers and players themselves will have little control over whether they succeed or fail, there are other areas of security for which gamers are directly responsible.
Chief amongst these is keeping your personal information to yourself when playing online, even if you feel like you are building a good relationship with your teammates. Plenty of hackers use social engineering to convince their targets to give out private data which can then be exploited for identity theft and fraud.
Because of this, you should never hand over information such as your email address, password, home address or any other details that can be linked to you. There is a lot of power and protection in anonymity when playing games online, and you need to be sure that you stick to the best practices to stop crooks in their tracks.
Phishing campaigns focused on new games & hardware launches
Phishing sites and email campaigns run the gamut from fashion and tech to gaming and beyond, so it pays to be aware of the likelihood that fresh attempts to dupe innocent web users will be made whenever the latest releases arrive.
For gamers, this means being on the lookout for websites and messages in their inbox which are designed to look like the real deal, perhaps advertising the next-gen Xbox and PlayStation consoles or allegedly marketing the release of the new Call of Duty title.
These campaigns can be very convincing, which makes them all the more dangerous and likely to succeed.
Once again you should be cautious of any message that makes unsolicited requests for personal information and any website which has an offer that seems too good to be true.
These are just a few of the biggest threats facing gamers, but knowing which you will encounter next is impossible. For this reason it makes sense to always be vigilant and keep an eye on your accounts for any strange activity, so that if you do fall victim to fraud or theft, you can alert the authorities sooner rather than later.