If you love online gaming (and been doing it for a long while) chances are that your data is being spied upon for a long time.
It isn’t just about the third-party vendors snooping in on your data or waiting for the ISP to collect information about you, most of the games are inherently designed to need access to certain utilities on your device to enable you to play. Such as games that access your microphone, camera, and media files.
Where is all your data going?
You can’t be sure whether this data is stored merely on the servers of the gaming provider or be shared with third-party vendors for advertisement and/or marketing purposes. Also, you can’t ignore the fact that there have been multiple data breaches in the past stealing & leaking users’ data stored on the cloud or company servers.
If you want to take care of your privacy and deal with the most common loopholes that can endanger your privacy when gaming online, here’re a few ways to do it.
1- Malware in Games
If you are an android user or play games on a computer, you know that many of the users download games from unauthentic sources such as torrents.
These games aren’t verified or backed by the original companies. But what’s even more dangerous is that these games can actually be full of malicious scripts. Once downloaded and installed on your device, this malware can lead to significant damages to your private data stored on your computer.
2- Accessing your Camera & Microphone
Whether you play games on your computer, laptop, or smartphone, most online games require access to your camera and microphone. Especially the multiplayer gamers stress on accessing these two utilities as you won’t be able to communicate with your mates otherwise.
By sharing your screen with others online, or forgetting to mute the mic, you are prone to exposing your personal information, conversations to other players without even noticing it. Maybe your family member is discussing some important matters with you while your mic is unmuted, this can end up pretty badly.
3- Tracking your Location when Gaming Online
This is especially prevalent in smartphones.
There are many games that require access to your location. Games such as Pokemon Go, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, landlord, and Minecraft earth, etc, use your location to offer you features and segments within the game.
Unlike apps like VPNs that offer a zero-log policy, these games store your information and may use it to show you advertisements. Likewise, to shopping and food ordering apps, this data is vulnerable to hacking attempts and in case of a security breach, can be used against you.
4- Unprotected Servers for Gaming
Not all games have enough resources to protect the servers your data is being stored in. The encryption may not be enough for hackers with advanced knowledge and tools. These hackers can successfully breach these servers and steal your data. It had happened before.
Garmin–a major fitness company–just faced a terrible ransomware attack where the hackers locked them out of the servers and asked for a hefty sum in exchange for the key. While Garmin sure has enough resources at its disposal, it had to pay the hackers at the end to enable access to its servers.
To minimize the risk, you can use a VPN when gaming online. It will encrypt your data and mask your IP address so nothing can be traced back to you.
5- Ransom for your hard work
How would you feel if your DOTA account was hacked after you have just finished your 1000th hour on it? All the progress, achievements, missions could be simply deleted if you don’t pay the hackers what they ask. This is in-game ransomware. Hackers are aware of how much time gamers spend on their favorite games (progress saved on accounts) so they attack where we are most vulnerable–our gaming accounts.
6- Tracking your keyboard when gaming
Another trick hackers have under their cuff is “keylogging”
Keylogging is basically when the hackers lure you into downloading a software (beta version of a new or old game, an upgrade, free costume offer) through mails, or a fake website and using this opportunity to track your keyboard strokes.
Once they know what login credentials you have put, they will use it to hack you across multiple platforms.
7- Unsecure WiFi
I have personally seen people playing games while being connected to an open Wifi or public WiFi.
Now, I have covered this fact in many of my earlier blogs where I wrote about how the hackers use public or open WiFi to hack your screen and even your data using Man-in-Middle attacks.
Unless you are connected to a VPN, playing online games on a public WiFi network will only result in your data being tracked and even stolen.
8- Phishing Tactics in gaming
Phishing is prevalent across all industries. From social media to corporate, hackers and cybercriminals use social engineering tactics to hack your accounts, steal your data, and then misuse it to blackmail you.
The main use of Phishing is by sending fake emails carrying links that take you to a seemingly authentic website or web page where you are required to enter your login credentials. Once you do it, your credential details are used to break into your accounts.
9- 2FA is a must
Two-factor authentication has come out to be something we know we should use but we don’t.
2FA basically adds an additional layer of security to your accounts. You will be required to have an additional handheld device in order to verify a code, message, or call, and only then will you be able to access your account.
This helps you secure your account.
Some tips to secure your gaming privacy:
Now that you understand how dangerous the hacking attempts are to your reputation, finances, and resources, it is high time we discuss some tips to protect your privacy and defeat the hackers just like you defeat Gwyn Lord of Cinder.
- The first tip is for the basics. Use stronger passwords, never share your password with anyone, always check what folders the game needs to access, keep checking the folders if there is some suspicious file that came with the game.
- The 2nd tip is to use a VPN. Yes, I get it. VPNs often reduce the speed to some extent but believe me, a bit less speed is much more manageable compared to the losses you will bear if your account gets hacked.
- The 3rd tip is to please stop torrenting. I agree some games are too expensive but we can always wait for a while so they can be offered at cheaper rates. Or, we can pitch in with our friends and buy the game together. Anything is safer than torrenting. It puts your whole system at risk of cyberattacks.
- The 4th tip is that sometimes, you may find a code stating that it can crack any game. Once you try to install it, it will install malware on your computer. The same is the case with cheat sheets. Steer clear of them.
- The 5th & last tip is to visit your account settings and check what you can do to maximize your privacy. It falls down on your shoulders to practice as many cybersecurity measures as possible.