Privacy Info

Gamers: Here are Some Steps You can Take to Protect Your Privacy

November 4, 2022
5 min

Few people are as familiar with the vast online ecosystem as the gaming community. Here, players craft an entire interconnected world around their digital conquests. They trade, form bonds with other players, make in-game purchases, and sometimes spend years cultivating their gaming personas. 

Unfortunately, cybercriminals have found ways to use this to their advantage.

Gamers are prime targets for cybercriminals.

Logically, the more time someone spends online, the more likely they are to become the target of bad actors. Adding to the risk, gamers are often asked to input credentials to log into accounts, set up payment options, and sometimes refrain from using VPNs so they don’t disrupt the stream of information. Cybercriminals know this and double down on attacking gamers.

According to a 2021 report by Norton LifeLock, 33% of U.S. gamers report that their gaming accounts have been the target of some sort of cyberattack. Meaning that one in three gamers are at risk. 

In some instances, hackers will access the sign in credentials for the gamer’s account, and then sell this account to the highest bidder. People are willing to pay for established accounts because it enables them to start at a higher level, gain access to valuable in-game items, and effectively get ahead without having to do the work.

When it comes to gaming, there is an economy that’s unique to the ecosystem. It’s not just about stealing identities or gaining access to financial resources. It’s also about the value placed on items or characteristics that exist only in the game.

Hackers exploit “in-game” trade.

Hackers know that gaming offers a more diverse way to profit due to the value assigned to components (items, abilities, etc.) by gamers themselves. If someone is willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a rare item, it only makes sense for hackers to use this as another way to exploit people.

Not all of these real financial transactions are protected within the gaming software. Users may share sensitive information, banking credentials, or account credentials outside of the game unknowingly believing that they are purchasing something legitimately. 

Hackers can use these transactions as an opportunity to gain access to this information through a variety of ways. Sometimes they may use false payment links or spoofed login pages to gain access. Other times, they may claim that they need some personal information to complete the sale, or make the sale but fail to deliver the asset at all.

Even gaming software that stores payment information is vulnerable if someone hacks and gains access to the account. With so many ways to steal and profit off of gamers, it’s important that people take steps to protect themselves.

How gamers can protect their online privacy

When it comes to protecting your privacy in the gaming world, there are several things you can do:

  • Use a VPN if you can. While VPNs can cause latency and data loading issues, they can also be a powerful tool when it comes to protecting information. VPNs can redirect traffic to mask your location and encrypt data to make it more secure. Look for VPNs that are designed to be gamer friendly and that have a good track record of protecting info.
  • Limit the data you share when signing up for gaming accounts. Some games require a lot of personal info to maybe customize the gaming experience or to target you with in-game ads. Before blindly filling anything in, check their privacy policy to see how your data will be used and stored. If they don’t need your real name, phone number, address, or other personal information, create alternate (fake) responses. Just make sure that you have a way to recover your password first.
  • Don’t share your picture on your gaming profiles. It may feel like a more personal experience to add your face to your profiles, but this can give hackers another way to track you. Unless absolutely necessary, use an avatar or just leave the image blank.
  • Stream safely. Gamers who use social sites to stream their gameplay or connect with other players need to make sure that the site is completely secure. The more networks you’re connected to, the more opportunities there are for weak points.
  • Set in-game privacy settings at the highest level. If two factor authentication is available, turn this on, and check out the other privacy settings that may be available to you. This, along with a strong password, can go a long way towards protecting your account.
  • Make sure third party partners are also secure. As a part of the gaming process, third party partners may be involved in transferring, storing, or using your data. Take some time to find out who the gaming company works with and who will have access to your information.
  • Block sites from collecting data in the Windows hosts file. This may sound technical, but in short, you can easily block third parties contracted by the gaming company to collect data. This works with Windows 10 and involves changes to the last line of the hosts file. You can read a step-by-step guide on this here
  • Keep Windows updated. Updating operating systems can close gaps in security, reduce latency, and improve the overall performance of the computer.

Gaming doesn’t mean compromising your privacy. By taking these precautions, you can enjoy your gaming experience and skip the data breaches.

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