What Are The Risks Of Online Gaming?

Last Updated on May 7, 2024

The global online gaming population grew to 3.26 billion in 2023. This is no surprise. What astounded me was that 384,224 users were exposed to gaming-related malware and malicious software in 2022. 

Whether you are a pro gamer, a regular player, or just a parent of a kid addicted to their online games, you risk getting hacked if you have no protection for your device. 

Hackers can steal your personal data while you play online and make money from it. Only appropriate security measures can stop them. Therefore, let’s review what you need to know to protect yourself and your family.

💯 Act Now: Getting identity theft protection from Aura is one of the best ways to protect your family from threats posed by online gaming. Get it today for 68% off and a 14-day free trial!

Common Online Game Risks

Common Online Game Risks

Malware And Virus Infections

When gamers try downloading unauthorized versions of games or related programs, they may download malware in the process.

In 2022, cyber attacks were carried out on gamers through malware with 91,984 files disguised as 28 or more games. The top 5 PC games used as bait were Minecraft, Roblox, Need for Speed, Grand Theft Auto, and Call of Duty. 

Identity Theft

Cybercriminals use the chat function when playing online games with others to steal personal info about them to create profiles of potential victims. These profiles include personal data like names, phone numbers, and home addresses. So it is critical to be careful what you say when playing online games.

Hacking and Account Takeovers

What happens if a cybercriminal gets your login info? Well, they can hack your account and seize control. 

Hackers or predators can get into all your accounts if they get ahold of your password. They can also use brute force attacks on accounts with weak passwords. Once they gain access to your account, they might steal from you using it or use it to conduct more scams.

Spyware

Gamers become the target of spyware schemes, especially when using an unreliable app or program. Spyware tracks user activities without the user knowing. If this information is collected, it can be sold to a third party and result in a violation of your privacy.

Swatting and Doxing

Swatting is a form of harassment, usually perpetrated by users of the gaming community. It involves someone placing a fake emergency call to get law enforcement to respond at the targeted address of a victim.

In one swatting incident, 19-year-old Casey S. Viner got charged with making a swatting phone call that resulted in the death of a 28-year-old at his front door. Viner received a sentence to serve 15 months in prison in 2019.

On the other hand, Doxing is a way of using sensitive or secret information to harass, expose, hurt, or exploit people. Hackers can steal passwords, make fake purchases, post embarrassing photos, or even pretend to be your kid and send inappropriate messages to others.

Data Breaches

Hackers can also directly target game publishers or related servers. If hackers can get into the right system, they gain access to a treasure trove of data – from the source code of the games to the personal data stored in user accounts. They will then use this information to nefarious ends or sell it on the dark web.

If you thought all the information until now was alarming, check this out. During the Zynga data breach, hackers stole login information of user names, passwords, and email addresses. The data breach affected over 170 million accounts and is one of the most shocking data breaches in history.

Phishing

Cybercriminals can provide phishing links disseminated through the chat during online gaming (at least in some games). It tricks users into installing malicious game malware on their computers. 

For instance, phishing emails or chat messages are click baits seemingly from legitimate sources, encouraging users to download bonus content or click on a login page. These messages are fake, with nefarious intentions.

Online Gaming Risks for Children

Online Gaming Risks for Children

Privacy

Without instruction, children are likely to share their personal information online. As far as kids can tell, sharing everything about themselves makes sense because this is how friendships form. 

But when children share their home address, age, and school online, they put themselves and their loved ones at risk.

Cyberbullying

Mena Willis, 15, was bullied to the point of self-harm while playing the video game Roblox. After feeling powerless against cyberbullying, she committed suicide in her high school bathroom.

Nearly 40 percent of people experience offline bullying at school, while 25 percent experience online cyberbullying. The effects on young children can be devastating, making them feel isolated and ashamed. Don’t let online games be a medium for your children to get bullied.

Predators

In August 2022, a male resident of Erlanger, Kentucky, was convicted for soliciting sex with three minors through a PlayStation game, resulting in a sentence of 15 years imprisonment. 

Some predators may set up gaming accounts to make friends with children through online games. Once they have made friends, they may try to convince children to meet them in person.

Signs There Is Something Wrong

1. Suspicious Messages: Some information may have been compromised if you get more phishing emails or strange alerts on your phone or email accounts.

2. Unusual Charges: If you see strange charges on your statements from games your kid plays, it may not be your child. Alternatively, your child might be buying things they shouldn’t.

3. Password Reset Attempts: Hackers may attempt to reset passwords or phone numbers. If you receive an alert about these changes, they could be an attempt to take control of the account.

4. Your Device Isn’t Acting Normally: If unexpected apps or content launches, it might be malware. Also, check for more errors, glitches, and changes to your UI.

5. Sluggish Speed: If your device is acting slower than usual, it may be infected with malware.

How To Protect Yourself From Risks Of Online Gaming

How To Protect Yourself From Risks Of Online Gaming

Never Disclose Personal Data

Refrain from revealing your personal information while playing online.
Ensure your username or accounts have no identifying information attached publicly to them. Never post any personal information on gaming forums.

Get Identity Theft Protection

Identity protection services such as Aura offer ironclad protection against identity theft. They’ll monitor your accounts, provide identity theft insurance, and alert you if anything is off.

💯 Act Now: Aura is a top identity theft protection service provider that will provide identity theft insurance, alerts, and helpful security measures. Get it today!

Using A Reliable VPN Service

A trustworthy VPN will protect your family’s browsing history, personal information, and geolocation from hackers. ExpressVPN or Surfshark are strong options. They can encrypt your traffic, keep you safe on public networks, and more.

Implement Strong Passwords

Update your passwords regularly. 
When creating a password, use a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
Use a secure password manager like Bitwarden and store them safely, if remembering all your separate passwords is too much (quite likely).
Consider using multi-factor authentication to ensure only the user can access an account through a text message verification or biometric validation.

Download From Trustworthy Sources 

At first, you might think you can save some cash by downloading those add-on packs from third-party sources and illegal downloads. However, malware thrives on such platforms. 

Only download from reliable platforms.
The best way to keep your device safe and secure is to avoid third-party downloads.
Identity thieves will try to trick you into downloading pirated game apps.

Be Safe With Security Software 

Use antivirus software to protect from malware and other infections while playing online. Norton is a great choice for this. Remember to update the software regularly and keep its features enabled.

9 Steps to Protect Your Children from Online Gaming Threats

1. Use Parental Controls: Consider implementing parental controls or content filters on relevant accounts if you are concerned.

2. Create a Safe Space: Listen to your child without judgment so they feel safe coming to you when an incident occurs.

3. Set Rules: Set ground rules before you let them play online. Discuss gaming habits, behaviors, timings, and what information they can or cannot share online.

4. Report Issues: If something happens, report it to the gaming platform (admins or a reporting system). Be prepared to report it to authorities for more serious incidents. Collect evidence if you can.

5. Utilize In-Game Settings: Many popular games or platforms have settings that can help you protect your children. Use these privacy and protection settings as you can.

6. Block Harassment: If you encounter harassment, block the offender. Instruct your children to do the same.

7. Teach Your Children about Phishing Scams: Show them some common signs and why they should be wary of links or files online.

8. Discuss the Risks of Chat Rooms: Show them how to behave in online chat rooms and manage chats. They should feel confident ending a conversation if they feel uncomfortable.

9. Create Payment Alerts: You can avoid unpleasant surprises on your statements. Use payment alerts and get emails for purchases on relevant accounts.

The Verdict: Ensure The Safety of Your Family From Risks Of Online Gaming

Last year, cybercriminals launched over seven million attacks on children. These involve phishing websites that seem related to popular games, including Roblox, Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Minecraft. Know the risks when gaming for yourself or your family.

Make sure you use a family email ID to sign up for online games and create a separate email address for gaming. Email addresses are often the way for others to get hold of information about you. 

Additionally, identity protection software such as Aura will help protect against cyberattacks and, more specifically, identity theft. They offer identity tracking and identity restoration services.

💯 Act Now: Getting Aura today can protect yourself and your family from identity theft and other threats. You can get a 14-day free trial and 68% off by acting now.

Online gaming has risks, but don’t stop you or your family from enjoying what it offers. Take the appropriate steps, learn what you can, and have your well-deserved fun!