The gaming lifestyle festival DreamHack has shown the extent of cyber attacks on the gaming industry, which has suffered 152 million web application attacks and as many as 10 billion credential stuffing attacks in the past two years. Whatever your preferred console of choice, thanks to the lockdown and Covid restrictions put in place, online gaming has served as a major form of entertainment and social interaction for many people across the world. With many new accounts being created, cyber criminals were quick to take advantage of this. We chatted to some gamers to get first hand some of their top tips on how to stay safe whilst gaming online!

Akami noted showed that 55% of people who identified as frequent gamers had had an account compromised at some point whilst gaming. Steve Ragan, Akamai security researcher and report author said that “Criminals are launching relentless waves of attacks against games and players alike in order to compromise accounts, steal and profit from personal information and in-game assets and gain competitive advantages. Besides credential stuffing attacks using stolen credentials, most relevant scams inlude phishing attacks against gamers which tend to rely on fake websites related to a game or platform to trick players into handing over their login details.”

We interviewed Xbox Gamer Alfie, 12, who said that to make his Xbox account more secure, he made sure to set up two-factor authentication, using both a number PIN and a password to get into his account. He continued to tell us that Xbox would not accept a password under 8 characters and would notify users if a password was weak upon creating an account. Alfie also made us aware that in order to combat phishing scams, Xbox made it so that any links that were sent via game chat would not be clickable. He tells us that he enables invite-only feature which means that he can only play and chat with people who he has knowingly selected, avoiding outside strangers being able to interact with the party. Alfie acknowledged that enabling a VPN (virtual private network) is also a great way to keep data protected when gaming online, and was aware of the cybersecurity risks of leaving an account open leaving with Paypal and bank card details exposed to hackers, although his own personal experience with hackers was that they would delete data in mindless trolling attempts. This case study shows that consoles such as Xbox have taken basic measures to help guide its users to be aware of their safety when gaming online, and younger users actually seem pretty switched on to the possible vulnerabilities hackers may attack. You can read more on how to make your children aware of cybersecurity during homeschooling here.

We spoke to another gamer of a slightly different demographic. Demi is 25 years old, and said that they use a proxy when playing games, and only ever plays with friends because they find playing with strangers “terrifying”. They also mentioned that they never use webcams or shares their location. This is great advice to also protect users from grooming or other sinister motives.

Gamer Demi, 24, gave us some good tips on how to create a safe username when setting up your account. “Do not make a username that contains your actual name, any hints to where you live, or your birthday.” This touches on an important topic, as hints of your personal data can give away clues to your security questions if you bank online etc.

Further tips for gaming safely online includes:

-Thinking about what you’re sharing online.

-Thinking about who you’re playing with. You can report and mute anyone who’s abusive, threatening or who tries to bully you. people might not always be honest about who they are, so be careful of scams, and don’t accept gifts or offers that seem too good to be true. Be nice to the people you’re playing with, even if they’re not as good at the game.

-Checking your privacy settings. Changing your privacy settings can affect who can see if you’re online, who you can play with and whether people can see what games you’re playing.

-Watch out for loot boxes and in-app purchases. Check whether something will cost real world money before you buy anything. Don’t buy items from websites outside of the game itself

-Remember Mods and downloads aren’t always safe. Downloading cheats or mods from websites other than the official game website can be dangerous. Mods can contain viruses that will damage your computer or mobile, and give hackers access to your personal data. Whenever you can, always use your mobile’s app store or download mods from official websites.

If you need further support get in touch with our expert team today!