In today’s world, ignoring online privacy issues is like turning a blind eye to a disaster. Collection and use of personal data on the internet have become a great challenge for users, and it cannot be ignored anymore.
The online ecosystem has grown tremendously, becoming an alternative economy that is not regulated by gamers or any authority. The problem is that it involves exchange or real-world money and buying and selling of virtual items. Unfortunately, this virtual gaming environment has a dark side to it. The addition of real-world money has made online gaming platforms and users an ideal target for cybercriminals.
In this blog, I will discuss the most important online privacy issues that gamers face and how they can protect themselves against them:
One of the biggest online privacy issues for gamers is unsecured Wi-Fi. Unsecured Wi-Fi exposes gamers to hackers when they enter their login credentials and credit card information. The only way to protect yourself online is to use a Virtual Private Network. It reroutes your online traffic and passes it through a VPN tunnel, making it untraceable.
However, the problem is that most gamers don't use a VPN because they fear that VPN will slow down their connection speeds. In reality, that is not the case. In fact, in most cases, VPNs can offer lower latency and help users overcome throttling issues. But you’ll need a reliable VPN for it. ExpressVPN is a good option to go for. It offers plenty of servers all over the globe, making sure that your data packets travel through the shortest distance between your computer and the gaming servers. With reduced pings, you’ll never have to deal with lagging issues. If you’re interested in getting this VPN, make sure to check out this ExpressVPN free trial hack to get it free for 30-days.
Even in the gaming industry, phishing remains one of the most common forms of online attacks. Typically, cybercriminals send out an email posing as a well-renowned gaming company, thus encouraging users to click on the link and add their login details for a made-up reward. For example, there are plenty of geo-blocked games online. By setting up a lure, hackers can ask for personal information in exchange for a free download link to the game.
The minute you add your login information, the hackers will have access to all the data they need to break into your account.
What’s worse is that online gaming accounts contain a lot of personal information like the username, address, mobile number, and date of birth. All this information can be sold on the dark web and result in identity theft.
Did you know, modern games like Pokemon Go track your location and sometimes sell this information to third-party advertisers. For example, if you frequently visit a restaurant, the game can log the information, and it will tell the advertiser to show you ads of that restaurant’s deals and similar restaurants nearby. The same can be said about the owners of Assassin’s Creed, and Tom Clancy says that it respects user privacy, but they do record player’s data, including timestamps and geo-location.
Players can turn off tracking locations to protect their online privacy, but with games like Pokemon Go, it is impossible.
A new form of cyberattack is using keyloggers. A keylogger is a type of spyware that logs everything you type on your keyboards, including log-in details and passwords. By using keyloggers, the hackers can log all your keyboard strokes and record everything you type. It seems familiar because you might have seen this in a Mission Impossible movie where Tom Cruise uses keyloggers to plot data.
Here are some useful tips and tricks for identifying and protecting yourself against keyloggers:
- Regularly check your computer for any unwanted software and delete it.
- When entering a password for sensitive sites and apps like online banking, use a virtual keyboard.
- Use a password manager, so you don't have to enter the password every time, so there won’t be any keystrokes, thus no logging.
- Use a powerful anti-virus to keep your device safe from any malicious software and remove such apps automatically.
Microphone and Camera Access
For those who don't know, in multiplayer games, users have to communicate using cameras and microphones with their teammates. Therefore, everything you say or do is transmitted online. Therefore, if you say something personal then it will be transmitted online to other gamers and anyone who is watching.
Another problem is that gamers live stream their gaming content on various platforms like YouTube, which exposes them to the risk of the data breach. The Live stream is accessible by millions of people all over the world and if the location and username of the gamer are visible, it might create privacy issues. This data can be used by hackers for their personal use, thus breaching your online privacy.
Poor server protection & data mishandling
Similarly, the majority of gaming companies have poorly secured gaming servers that can be hacked to get important user information. One such example is the case of the Sony Playstation hack where hackers got access to 70 million user accounts. The problem is that most of the time this data is not encrypted and can be used by anyone with access. Therefore, data mishandling and misuse can lead to serious privacy concerns.
Tips to Improve your Online Gaming Privacy
These are some of the most common online privacy threats that gamers have to face. But the good news is that you can take precautionary measures to protect your online gaming privacy. Here are some tips:
- Avoid downloading games of companies with bad track records when it comes to security and data protection.
- Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication.
- Use a VPN to encrypt your online traffic to make you untraceable online.
- Limit the amount of information you have to give out to the companies.
- Be careful when using cheat codes, they may contain malware and can compromise the security of your device.
- Avoid using pirated versions of games, as it may save your money, but it will make you vulnerable to privacy issues.
- Be careful about in-game phishing attacks, and don't open emails and links sent by unknown senders.