Stay safe while gaming online: Expert tips

If you play online games, it’s best to use a fake name or pseudonym, and an avatar for a profile picture rather than an actual photo of you. Otherwise, you’re much more vulnerable to data breaches, DDoS attacks, and more. 

Trevor Cooke, the online privacy expert at EarthWeb, discusses four scams you could fall prey to while playing games online. 

  1. Account Hijacking

If you use the same password for every platform and application, it’s easier for cybercriminals to access all of your accounts and take them over. They could try to hold your account for ransom, they could steal things like cosmetics or items, or they could try to use your gaming account as a stepping stone toward breaking into your bank account or other more sensitive accounts.

Trevor says, ‘Sometimes, scammers use automated scripts to break into accounts, often using stolen data. A key strategy to protect yourself is to use different – and strong – passwords for everything and to change them regularly.’

  1. Phishing Attacks

Teenagers especially like to chat during gameplay, but they should never reveal their personal details. If they communicate these details with strangers, their data could be used for phishing attacks.

A phishing attack is where emails or chat messages are received from an unknown source. They may request immediate action to prevent an issue or claim a prize. To prevent yourself from being scammed, avoid clicking on the links or attachments, and don’t supply your personal data to anyone without verifying their identity first.  

  1. Doxxing

Trevor explains, ‘Doxxing is where hackers get hold of your home address or telephone number and post it online. While some people see this as a ‘harmless bit of fun’ and don’t understand the severity of their actions, others doxx for more malevolent reasons.’

Either way, it can be distressing for the victim, making them vulnerable to scam phone calls and unwanted home visits.

  1. Swatting

Swatting is an even more serious type of doxxing, where someone who has it out for you will falsely call 911/999. The person will ask the police to urgently attend your address, often claiming there’s been a shooting or hostage situation there. This will often lead to an emergency police response team breaking into your home, causing much distress for you and your family and costing the police a lot in wasted time and money. Victims have even been mistakenly shot or held in custody by police as a result of swatting incidents. 

How To Protect Your Identity

Here are some of Trevor’s tips:

  • Use a VPN while gaming
  • Use a password manager and 2-factor authentication
  • Keep your software up to date
  • Use a separate email address for gaming
  • Only download from legitimate sources
  • Regularly review your privacy settings

Trevor says, ‘The less people know about you, the safer you’ll be. By acting wisely, you can enjoy gaming and block cybercrime.’ 

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