Video games are one of the biggest forms of entertainment today, and online gaming is widely popular among all ages. Yet, there are still security risks that players need to be aware of and proper security measures need to be in place to protect not only their computers but their personal data as well.
The risks of online gaming
Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO’s) and Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG’s) are two of the main categories of online gaming. Players all over the world can create characters and play in a different world over an internet connection. In some of these different games, players use real money to purchase items and characters for the game. Games like Guild Wars, League of Legends, Warcraft, are loads of fun to play but they carry some security risks, both of a technological and social nature.
Technological Risks associated with online gaming.
There are few different technology-based risks associated with online gaming. If you are online, then computer viruses or worms are always a concern, and online gaming poses this same risk. “Malicious software can be hidden in downloadable game files as well” warns Clyde Eldridge, a business writer at Best Australian writers and Revieweal. Another issue is compromised gamer servers. Any game with a network connection carries a level of risk. Malicious users might be able to control your computer, install viruses or malicious software, and can potentially gain access to personal information on your computer.
Social risks associated with online gaming.
Since online games tend to involve lots of strangers on the internet, sometimes people use the social interaction of the online gaming environment to exploit software vulnerabilities.
Sometimes, they might try to gain access to unprotected computers on the internet. Here are a few of the common social risks:
- Social engineering- where malicious individuals try to trick you into installing software on your computer where they can control your machine, monitor what you do online, or launch attacks on other computers.
- Identity Theft-if malicious individuals can gather information about you from your gaming profiles and other sources, they may be able to use it to create accounts in your name, resell it, or even access your existing financial accounts.
- Protection Schemes-in South Korea the emergence of organized crime within online gaming has made an appearance. Crime organizations within the game are forcing weaker players to pay virtual or real protection money in order to avoid negative consequences.
- Cyber prostitution-Inside the online game “The Sims online” a user created a cyber-brothel where customers paid sim-money (Simoleans) for cybersex by the minute.
- Virtual Mugging- the use of bot software to defeat in-game characters and steal all their in-game items.
- Virtual Sweatshop- The virtual economies of some games have spawned virtual sweatshops, in which workers in third-world countries are being economically exploited by people seeking to find new ways to profit.
Both technological and social risks exist within the online gaming community. Now that you are aware of the dangers online, what can you do to stay safe while gaming online?
Things you can do to stay safe whiling playing an online game.
Most of the internet safety advice you already follow also applies to online gaming. Here are some tips to help you stay safe while playing online.
- Create and use strong passwords
“Your passwords should all be unique and contain a variety of letters, numbers, and symbols” explains May Young, a project manager at Writing populist and Academized. Never share your password with anyone else.
- Do not download software or games from unknown websites
If you do not recognize the site you are downloading from, then you probably shouldn’t use it. You can also do a quick search to see if the site is legitimate or not via google or Reddit. Chances are someone within the gaming community will know if it is safe or not.
- Use antivirus and anti-spyware programs
If you are on the internet and make a habit of downloading games and software, then you should be running a virus scanning program as well as an anti-spyware program to help keep your computer virus-free and running well, which is imperative to online gameplay.
- Play the game at the game site
Where possible, play your game on the game’s original website, and skip internet browsing while you do it.
If you play online games, it’s important to know the risk and how to stay safe while playing online.
Christina Lee is a social media strategist at Student writing services and essay writing services. She writes about marketing news, as well as technologies for such services, such as Simple Grad, and many others.