Whether you are bringing your latest block-based creation to life with friends on a Minecraft server or visiting an online casino, playing games securely in a networked environment is essential.
With threats always evolving, it is important to stay on top of your security whatever you do with your internet connection. Here are some gamer-friendly tips for how to make improvements to your digital armor in 2020.
Always install updates
The good news is that most major online games and the platforms that support them will not let you play unless you have the latest version of the title in question installed. This is partly to make sure that bugs are properly patched and all users can game on a level playing field, but also to stop known security exploits from persisting after they are uncovered.
Sure, even newly rolled-out updates will be subjected to subversion by hackers, but as long as you keep on adding updates as they arrive, you should be in the best position to enjoy your games unhindered.
Never reuse passwords
As with many connected services, the most vulnerable part of any gaming account will typically be the password. Data leaks from other sources can leave your private details up for sale on the dark web, usually without your knowledge.
The solution to this is not only to choose strong passwords, but more importantly to avoid using the same password on more than one platform. For example, you shouldn’t log into Steam with the same passwords as you use for Battle.net or any other solution you play on.
This is not just about keeping your personal details safe; it’s also about protecting your collection of games from malicious third parties.
You should also take advantage of multi-factor authentication, where available, to further strengthen your account. For example, Steam offers the option to add a mobile phone number and a backup email address so that you can recover your account if it is stolen.
Beware in-game chat
Another weak link in online gaming security is any built-in chat functionality that allows players to communicate with one another. While voice-based communication in games can be convenient as well as frustrating, it is generally quite safe so long as you ignore any clearly suspect advice given by strangers. Text-based chat is a trickier beast, because it can allow users to share malicious links and content more easily.
In short, as in any other online context, it is best to avoid clicking any unsolicited links from people you do not know when playing online. The same goes for links that show up in chatrooms associated with Twitch streamers, or indeed comments beneath gaming-oriented YouTube videos.
Likewise it is best to avoid sharing any personal information in any of the contexts mentioned so far. Cybercriminals often rely on social engineering to tease data out of their targets and this is just as true in gaming as in any other ecosystem.
Deploy security software solutions
Gamers need to protect their devices with dedicated antivirus and malware-scanning software, regardless of how tech-savvy they think they are. While hacks launched directly from within games are rare, and usually target developer and publishers directly, there are still plenty of ways for nasty code to end up on your PC or mobile if you are not careful.
Whether browsing sites for gaming news and reviews or looking for bargains during sales periods, an unprotected device will be vulnerable to infection in the places where you might least expect it.
Also it goes without saying, but steering clear of pirated games downloaded illegally is also vital. Illegitimate versions of high profile games are often tinkered with by cybercriminals and could cripple any device they end up on. It is cheaper in the long run to buy and play only official products and avoid the hassle and expense that comes with succumbing to a computer virus.