ESET, a global pioneer in proactive protection for more than 25-years, warns gamers on online gaming services. Gamers have become major targets for hackers, since gaming has now migrated almost entirely to online. Some small-scale scams are blossoming, too – from duping people into opening infected screensaver files on the Steam marketplace, to selling ‘cheats’ poisoned with malware. In Game forums, most gamers turn for advice – can be full of very, very wrong advice, and in-game chat channels play host to predators hoping to get you to click on a ‘bad’ link and infect your PC.
Below are a few more tips to stay safe.
Toughen up your browser
Ensure your browser has phishing warnings enabled, ensure your PC software is up to date – and think before you enter your login details and don’t ignore those pop-ups when they appear. These are valuable to cybercriminals.
Long-time player? Spring clean your security
If you’re a long-time player, you probably signed up for the game on Day Zero – when there were no security measures in place. If you’re returning (or still playing) make sure you take advantage of security measures such as two-factor authenticators
Don’t trade game codes via auction sites
The best place to get game codes is from games companies. Trading game codes via forums, or even auction sites, is asking for trouble.
If you’re competing at a public event, take extra care
Competitive esports are really taking off at the moment, and if you’re lucky enough to have a chance at public competitions, great – but take care.
ESET Security Specialist Mark James says “If you’re going to a gaming event or even a social gaming event change your usual password for a temporary one while you’re there then back to your usual one when back home. This protects you from scammers who might intercept data and use that to steal your account – or just someone looking over your shoulder to nick your password.”
Don’t pick a username which gives away information about you
This is especially crucial for children – as having a name that, for instance, gives away that someone is young, can attract unwanted attention. Game accounts are high-value targets for cybercriminals and if they can fill in blanks by Googling, once you’ve freely given them your name, you could be risking your account.
Don’t befriend people on Facebook to get ‘freebies’ in game
Don’t be tempted to bring in some new friends just to get extra game codes. Fan sites are full of people offering to befriend you for just that purpose – and it can speed up the game experience – but you are left with friends who you do not know.
Don’t ever choose a bad password – even if your game ‘just got hacked’
ALL your game passwords need to be strong – whether for services such as Steam, or for individual games. If there’s a two-factor system on offer, use it. Make a ‘throwaway’ email address or several to use for logins if you can.
Cheats and hacks are even worse than you think
The world of gaming can seem crazy to an outsider –But cheats don’t just risk your account – they risk your computer. Up to 90% of commonly traded cheats are infected with some form of malware or adware, according to some estimates – basically, they’re called ‘hacks’ for a reason.
Mod with extreme care
Installing mods can be extremely dangerous – even if you use ‘reputable’ stores, such as Curse (which has been targeted by scammers multiple times in the past).
Even reliable sites can harbor player-made mods that pack malware. Check reviews, check URLs, and if possible have good AV software running.
Never, ever install a mod because a player tells you you ‘need it’ in game – it’s a classic scam. Being kicked out of that group is a price worth paying.
Don’t disable security features for a tiny bit of speed
That extra 1% of speed isn’t worth the contents of your bank account – don’t be tempted to disable your AV solution just to scrape a bit of extra speed from your CPU and GPU.
People on forums are not your friends
Gamer forums are pretty savage, hostile places at the best of times – and when it comes to scams, add-ons, mods or anything else, they are a bad place to get advice. The same goes for chat channels in-game. You do not know these people – so why trust them?