Due to the latest technologies and more stable internet connections around the world, online gaming has become popular now more than ever before. Players from different regions spend a lot of their time and money on these games as their main pastime and hobby. However, in today’s cyber society, some see online games as an opportunity for scams, illegal sources of income and blackmail. In this article, I will discuss about avoiding online gaming cyber security risks.
Anybody who enters the realm of online gaming should know that nobody is completely safe. You should consider the risks of playing or purchasing games online. Risks include:
- Social activities with random people on the internet who may ask for your personal and financial info
- Breachers such as hackers who can interrupt your computer, exploiting your security and planting ransomware, malware, spyware, Trojan horses, worms and other types of viruses
- Highly criminal activities such as black markets, human trafficking and predating on children
- Scams portraying as free premium items
- Gambling through microtransactions
I will be talking about each of them and help you get a better understanding of each risk.
Thanks to high-speed internet, people can now interact with people from all walks of life, creating a whole new society of people engaging in virtual social activities. These include MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games), competitive multiplayer (like League of Legends or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive), and casual social games (such as VRChat and Second Life).
While it is amazing to befriend people online or even find love, users are also prone to suspicious persons. These persons may ask for very sensitive information from you such as your real name, home address, where you work or study, user login and password, or credit card number.
Obviously, your reaction should be to refuse sharing such things. Unfortunately, a lot of people still take the fall. As a consequence, they leave themselves exposed to many dangers such as doxxing, burglary and online financial theft.
Remember: an honest person will never ask you for such things.
Hackers have always been the main culprits of cyber security risks in online games. Unfortunately, some fall prey even if they never wanted to be in such position at the first place.
A prime example is the Sony blunder of 2011. An anonymous hacker managed to breach into the PlayStation Network’s main server and exposed over 77 million PS players worldwide. Players had no control over what happened and the only one to blame during that time was Sony themselves. Of course, the company issued an apology to every person involved and later on sent out free games for their users.
Hackers may come from anywhere without knowing their purpose. Others may only want to win games using cheat codes (like wallhacks and aimbots in FPS games) while others may exploit random users in an MMO server and plant viruses such as spyware and ransomware into their macines.
Major Criminal Activities
Unfortunately, not even the kid-friendliest games like Roblox, Club Penguin or Minecraft are safe. It is very twisted knowing that there are child predators lurking in these servers pretending to be kids too in order to take advantage of the innocent to engage in unwanted sexual activities or worse.
The foolish may just tell their home address to a person online who they thought they could trust, only to be kidnapped or invaded. It is very sad to know that not knowing basic online gaming security risks lead to devastating consequences.
Name any sort of “-ware” and you will find it in all sorts of online games. The most prominent suspicious viruses are those with the free premium item scams for games like LoL or WoW. There are a lot of online gamers that want the best things in their favorite games without paying. As such, they would come across free premium item offers scattered throughout the net.
For example, if you Google “Free RP League of Legends”, you will find multiple websites that pretend to offer free RP. Their offer is that all you have to do is click on the button and you will have the free currency. Too good to be true, right? However, there is a catch; before you can even “claim” the RP, the website will ask for your phone number or credit card number. And if you enter it, you will find yourself a victim of a scam; leaving you without money in your card. Some would even plant a virus in your PC to expose your security and personal information.
Sometimes, it’s not the random strangers that are the problem, but rather the publisher or developer of the game itself. While microtransactions are highly optional in many online games, some publishers have found a way to exploit some users into spending a lot on a single game.
Microtransactions that come in a form of lootboxes or “gacha” are infinite and can suck your money dry within a few hours, much like gambling.
But, the problem here is that, unlike real gambling, there is 0% guarantee you will ever get your money back. Instead, you get digital items that do not have real-life value. Don’t believe it’s gambling? Well, take a look at the man who spent all his savings on a FIFA game or that one guy who spent a fortune on a Transformers mobile game that resulted in him being homeless.
Gambling is a form of addiction and if risking your money for items that are not 100% guaranteed you will get them due to random chances, that is just nothing more than a digital slot machine. Young kids who have no idea what gambling is may develop a form of addiction, spending all their money and even steal their parents’ credit card, only to get the digital items they wanted through lootboxes or gacha pulls.
There have been countless victims already to this exploit and big companies such as EA and Activision deny that these aren’t forms of gambling but rather “surprise mechanics”.
Always Keep Yourself in Check Online
Those are the major aspects of avoiding online gaming cyber security risks. As long as you constantly play games online, you and I are never safe from leechers, predators and the exploitations of large companies. Always be alert for such sensitive approaches. And, if your money or personal life is involved in an engagement online without any terms of agreement, then you are a potential victim of a cyber security risk.
If you have no idea how cybersecurity works in the gaming network, I do suggest looking up cybersecurity games online.