Hacking has been a challenge for cybersecurity professionals for many years. As far back as the ‘80s, before the Internet became a dominant force in our lives, hackers could enter computer systems and cause damage or skew results.
Today, it’s estimated that there are over 2.7 billion online gamers worldwide. The majority of these gamers play online casino games at their fav welcome bonus casino or video games that they download from the Internet. In addition, many of the gamers stream their gaming events and others log in to the gamers’ streaming channels to watch the games being played.
Add to that everything else that we do online - hold business meetings, banking, online purchases, email, chat with friends, sign up for newsletters, we can even have a remote doctor's appointment, the list goes on and on - and our info is "out there" - a lot....
All this online activity gives hackers a whole new window of opportunity to access accounts and do damage. Hackers can access digital data and then use it for their own purposes. Valuable data may be destroyed and hackers may even encrypt and hold data for ransom which renders it unusable. That device that you use to enjoy gaming entertainment has the potential to provide a hacker with direct access to your most private documents, allowing him/her to:
- Hijack your usernames and passwords.
- Ruin your credit.
- Open bank accounts and credit cards in your name and steal your money.
- Obtain cash advances.
- Obtain access to your Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and your social security number.
- Add themselves (or an alias that they control) as an authorized user to your accounts which gives them access to your credit.
- Make purchases.
- Sell your data which will allow it to be used for illegal or illicit purposes.
How can you secure your online gaming device or gaming account so that hackers can’t access your personal data?
You might think that your gaming account isn’t such a big deal. So what if someone breaks into the account that you use to play video games, you might think. Well, having someone hack into a gaming account can cause you more headaches than you might think. If your gaming account gets hacked the hacker can
- Use your login details to break into related accounts (social media accounts that are linked to your gaming account).
- Launch phishing attacks to get information from you and, in your name, from your friends.
- Read your charts and listen to your conversations.
- Sell your details.
- Get hold of your payment details and steal your money.
- Launder money.
So what can you do to protect your gaming accounts and devices?
No one can guarantee you 100% safety from a hacker but there’s plenty that you can do to protect your gaming account. Some of the most important steps include.
Passwords – use a strong password. It’s surprising, even after years and years of warnings, how many people use a common password such as their name or a word from a dictionary. Hackers have a huge database of the most commonly-used passwords along with random numbers or commonly used numbers (current year, year of your birth). Your account won’t withstand an attack if your password is not strong enough. The hacker will only need your email address and your username if the password is too week to withstand the hacker’s ability to enter your account via a password.
It’s worth the few minutes of extra time to create a 2 Factor Authentication entry process for your accounts. With 2 Factor Authentication, you are asked to provide a second form of ID when you log into your account. This generally involves confirmation through a code sent to your phone or to a second email account.
Also, if you store your passwords, make sure that the company that you use for the storage encrypts your passwords. If they are unencrypted, it’s almost like handing the hacker the information. It’s awkward but every account should have its own separate log-in details including its own password. That means that, just because your information is hacked on one account, it is not vulnerable on other accounts. Specifically, don’t use the same password for your online gaming and for your gaming account because it would be easy for a hacker to get your banking information if s/he is successful in hacking into your gaming account.
Antivirus Programs -- Use a good antivirus program and make sure that it’s updated regularly. An antivirus program will help you to catch the most common viruses before your device is infected. Check out a VPN for gaming. Such a VPN will hide your IP address from hackers and encrypt your traffic to protect you from ISP bandwidth throttling and other kinds of cyberattacks.
Beware of phishers. Phishers launch cyber-attacks through emails or other social media posts in which they try to trick the recipient into believing that the message has information that they need – information about their bank account, a note from a co-worker or a link to download or open an attachment.
Phishers masquerade as someone that you trust. Sometimes they take over someone else’s account and then launch phishing attacks on that person’s contacts. The link that the phishing email or message include links to a website that will launch a malware attack on the person who clicked. Sometimes the malware is benign or simply floods the person’s device with messages or ads. Other malware can actually take over the clicker’s computer and will put all your sensitive data, including your account log-in details, at the disposal of the hacker.
Be particularly careful of emails that ask you to log into your account (i.e. a confirmation email from your bank that gives you a direct link – in the email – from which you will be asked to log into your bank account to “confirm” your account. You can be sure that the link that they give you doesn’t go to your bank but goes straight to the phishers).
When you’re not at home, it makes sense that that would be a perfect time to play video games and at the online casino. That’s a time that you often have a lot of downtime when you’re looking for something to do. But remember that using public WiFi comes with its share of risks.
Public WiFi is a shared network and that means that there are many different people on the WiFi band with you. Being on the same Wifi connection as you makes it easy for a hacker, sitting near you, to access your account. From there, s/he’s got access to all your account data.
If you need to go online using public Wifi, use a secure network or a Virtual Private Network. You can find such networks online – some are free.
Some final tips to help you to keep your gaming accounts safe:
- Use extreme caution when posting personal information in chat rooms, on public websites, in group messages, etc.
- Don’t share any personal or financial information in an online conversation.
- Use a 2-way firewall
- Be careful when downloading attachments, files, etc
- Update your operating system regularly
- Don't open messages from unknown senders. If a suspicious message comes from a known sender, check it out before you open it (send the contact a message to confirm in a different way)
- Install antispyware software protection on your device