Gone are the days of travelling to the arcade to play games with friends. The ability to communicate with your entire squadron when playing tactical games, or boast about your newest skin, adds authenticity and multiple new elements to your gaming experience.
However, there are risks involved in entering the world of online gaming, and steps must be taken to ensure your safety and that of your gaming devices.
Increasingly players are able to spend money in online games purchasing new skins, paying for weapon upgrades or loading credit to play real money bingo. So not only is your personal information flowing through the server, but your financial data as well.
Most players participating in MMO’s are already using aliases, this adds another dimension to situations where not only are you playing with strangers, but you’re playing with strangers who are not using their actual identities. There obvious risk associated with interacting with people who you do not know and cannot track.
Do not divulge personal information over the chat platform, like your name, address or contact details and use a screen alias when playing. There is no reason for anyone that you are playing with to know anything more about you. If your game allows you to create a profile, be sensible about what information you share.
Although the info between your device and the gaming servers is usually encrypted there have been instances where hackers have managed to extract information. Normally after credit cards, if the game you are playing has the option to make purchases never save your credit card information and ensure your password is sufficiently difficult.
Protect Your Computer
Downloading anything from the internet has an element of risk. These risks can be mitigated if you ensure that your firewall is correctly set up and that you are running the most up to date anti-virus software.
Ensure that you are always running the legal updated versions of the game you are playing. Most games will automatically update upon sign on but that is only if your version is legal.
Running illegally downloaded versions can result in you inadvertently downloading spyware, and can lead to suspension of your account, your device being blocked and prosecution.
When logging onto your games never follow a link. Open your browser, type in and select the game site yourself. One of the easiest and most common forms of phishing, fraudsters will often send emails or alerts asking gamers to verify passwords or activate accounts by following links. This is also important when fellow players load attachments onto group chats.
Report anyone you suspect may be cheating. Online gaming platforms have very strict rules about cheating. Yes, sometimes you are going to lose so don’t be sour about it, but report players you feel are progressing too quickly. Fraudsters sometimes exploit other players by playing in ‘teams’ where their players ratings are much higher than those they are playing against, or use bugs in the system to steal from less advanced players.
As you progress further into your game and move higher in the ranks, become more vigilant with your passwords and account access. Do not use the auto sign in options, the more valuable your character or inventory become the more likely you are to be a target.
Lastly, keep your gaming friends and Facebook friends separate.