It’s unfortunate, but playing video games online involves taking a real-life risk. Credit cards and personal information associated with gamers’ (often multiple) accounts are prime targets for hacking. Not only that — player accounts themselves can be a valuable mark. Hackers comb popular games in search of players who spend money decking out characters with new skins or other perks. Such accounts are then broken into, stolen and sold through online black markets. Attacks happen frequently: multiplayer shooter Fortnite (which has one of the largest active player communities in the world) was the target of hacks that compromised thousands of accounts.
Many gamers know the risk, and thus may be more acquainted than most with the basics of online security. Even so, there are a few less obvious — but just as simple — steps that every gamer should consider taking to secure their funds.
- Use Different Passwords: If you happen to get hacked, having the same password for every account will only multiply the damage. Having a strong, unique password for every service you subscribe to (even those not for gaming) may be tedious, but it will keep you as safe is possible in a worst case scenario.
- Get a Password Manager: For people with accounts in the double digits, memorizing so many strong, complex passwords is probably less practical than downloading a password manager. Services like Lastpass or 1Password offer a simple and secure alternative to juggling a long list of passwords.
- Opt for Two-Factor Authentication: Two-factor authentication adds an additional layer of security when logging in. It asks users to verify their identity using a code received via text or email. Upon entering the code, account access is unlocked. Numerous gaming apps and services allow users to enable two-factor identification.
- Get to Know Privacy Settings: All gaming accounts provide the ability to customize privacy settings. Users can generally choose to hide their full name and other personal information. Some services — such as Xbox Live — hide players’ first and last names by default.
- Don’t Fall for Phishing: Strange emails saying that your account has been compromised, unsolicited offers for free game currency or weapon skins, or messages with links to shady URLs should be ignored at all costs. In gaming, good things rarely come free — and when they do, it’s obvious and verifiable.
- Don’t Get “Doxed:” If you’re interacting with people you’ve never met in a purely online setting, it can be extremely difficult to gauge how trustworthy they are. To avoid situations where your personal info is leveraged to harm you or those close to you, it’s best not to publish anything that could reveal who you are, or where you live. VPNs are a fantastic method for keeping your identity cloaked.