A few weeks ago, I was about to go live on-air with a TV interview and I got an alert that someone from out of state was trying to log into my Sony Playstation account. Fortunately, I had protections in place to make sure my account was secure. If you think that gaming only involves your kids playing Fortnite, Roblox, you're wrong. It also those games you play on your smartphones such as casino games, Wordle, or Words with Friends. Everything you do online is under constant siege and risk of attack. Criminals are always on the prowl looking for people with lucrative online accounts and digital data and that includes accounts and apps you and your family use for gaming. What can you do? Check out these quick and easy tips to keep your gaming accounts safe.
Why would anyone want access to your gaming accounts?
Whether you or your children play free or fee-based online games, criminals can get a lot of value from your accounts. Remember all those rewards and upgrades you have collected during many hours of playing games? Those rewards could be worth hundreds of dollars worth of prizes to cybercriminals. To make things more attractive, criminals know that most gaming accounts aren't difficult to access because many of you fail to use the most basic cybersecurity strategies. Parents need to be extra If a cyber crook is able to take over your gaming account, here are some of the things they will be able to do:
Sell your personal information on the dark web
Use your gaming account to launder money
Use your personal information to customize phishing attacks to get more information from you.
Perform credential stuffing and use your gaming account login information to get access to more of your online accounts such as social media and financial accounts.
Read conversations you and your children send via direct messenger to find more information about you. If you're a parent and reading this, you need to take extra precautions because children usually share too much information in direct messenger.
Log into your account and use your card on file to buy gifts or games for themselves or their friends.
How can hackers break into you and your children's gaming accounts?
1. Data breaches. Every now and then a gaming company will get compromised in a data breach. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do to protect yourself as this depends on the cybersecurity of the company that stores your data. This is why it's important to change the passwords to you and your kid's gaming accounts every few months.
2. Credential stuffing. If your log-in credentials have been leaked in a large-scale data breach onto the dark web, criminals will use that information to log in to other online accounts you and your children use. If you're using the password for your gaming account and your online financial accounts, you will be in huge trouble.
3. Weak passwords. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when creating your gaming account is to use a weak password. The one that consists of just one word anyone could find in a dictionary or using common passwords such as 'password1234.' Use passphrases instead. A passphrase is a sentence-like string of words used for authentication that is longer than a traditional password, easy to remember, and difficult to crack.
4. Malware. Criminals can trick you and your children into downloading malware in the gise of a new game or upgrade. Hackers know what games are popular with kids and adults and they can use them as bait.
5. Phishing. Crooks can send you phishing emails using your email address to trick you into thinking that they are from a legitimate gaming company. Using this method, they can steal even more information from you like your passwords, payment info, home address, etc.
6. Cyberstalking or cyberbullying. Online stalkers and bullies can be pretty petty and relentless online and can target you and your kids. Things they do that can put you, your children, and your information at risk include, finding your IP address, finding where you live, posting your address on gaming websites as well as following and harassing you on social media and other gaming sites. The information that cyberbullies share online can wind up in the hands of a cybercriminal, making you and your children's life pretty dangerous.
How to protect you and your children.
Yout family can take some simple measures to make hackers' lives more difficult. This is how:
1. Enable 2 Factor Authentication. When you enable 2 Factor Authentication or 2FA for your gaming accounts, it makes it harder for criminals to get access to your information. If a criminal gets your login information and logs in from their location, you will get an alert on your phone that someone is trying to log into your gaming account.
2. Use VPN for gaming. A VPN or virtual private network creates a tunnel that blocks out anyone trying to snoop on you while you are gaming.
2. Use antivirus and update it regularly. Windows and Macintosh users have anti-virus built-in. No need for third-party programs for protection. For your smartphone, you don't need to worry as viruses usually come in the form of a malicious app you may have downloaded to your smartphone or tablet.
3. Familiarize yourself with phishing techniques. Phishing is the most common way criminals will get access to your devices. The easier it is for you to recognize phishing attempts, the bigger the chance that you won't fall for them.
Gaming online for you and your children doesn't have to be a scary experience. Just remember criminals are looking for every way they can get access to your valuable information. You might think hackers aren't interested in your gaming accounts, but with video games earning over a billion a year, you can rest assured crooks are going to try to get a piece of the action and your personal data.
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