Check out our quick and easy cheat sheet for staying safe and protecting your devices when playing online
By Virgin TV Edit
Gaming has a huge following. It’s a big business with game purchases, in-app content and subscription fees that add up to an industry with an annual turnover of over £100 billion. Our monthly round-up of gaming releases contains some of the most valuable and well-known brands in the world.
Not only that, but there are also millions of accounts across gaming platforms, forums and services. These accounts hold valuable personal information that you need to keep safe, such as email addresses, billing information and credit card details.
And gaming-related cyberattacks are increasing.
Gamers are computer users with the same security issues and concerns as everyone else. They can fall victim to cyberattacks such as phishing and malware. But gamers also have to face gaming-related cyberattacks, which have been rising since the start of the Covid-19 lockdowns as people had more time to spend online.
And the stakes are high: gamers are at risk of everything from losing access to games to having their account and identity stolen. Here are some of the threats gamers need to be aware of:
Malware: Antivirus software for gaming won’t slow your PC down, but malware will. Malware can cause lag, system crashes, disturbs gaming and damages computers. Antivirus software is the best way to stay safe and keep devices running smoothly.
Keyloggers: These spyware tools steal your login credentials for online games and accounts. Losing access to a game or account is bad enough, but it’s even worse if it includes skins, downloadable content (DLC) and other valuable purchases.
Installing malicious games, apps, mods and updates: While this isn’t exclusive to gamers, most computer users aren’t downloading mods or cheats for everyday software like Excel or Word. You can be tricked into downloading malware – and without antivirus defences, you might not even know it.
Gaming-specific ransomware: One of the worst cyber threats out there, ransomware encrypts your files and asks for payment to unlock them. Some ransomware is hidden within gamer-oriented content such as files containing cheat codes.
ID theft and impersonation: Want to be a vlogger or an e-sports athlete? Identity theft can make things difficult for a rising star in the gaming world. Personal information for identity theft can easily be stolen with malware, data breaches and phishing.
Phishing and social engineering: Phishing links can be sent through game chats and social engineering is quite common. These methods are used to trick you into downloading harmful content, giving personal information, and trade scams.
How do you make your gaming more secure?
As with other online threats, there are ways to protect against gaming-related dangers. Here are a few things you can do to secure your gaming and online life.
It’s very unlikely you’ll stop downloading games just because it might be dangerous. But remember that any downloaded file can contain malware. Antivirus blocks malware from entering your computer, meaning that you’ll be protected even if you download malicious content. It keeps your device running free of viruses, trojans, spyware and ransomware.
Often the only thing that protects your online accounts and the information within them is a username and password combination. If this information gets exposed in a data breach, the risk of account takeover and identity theft increases. Using a 2FA, like Steam Guard, adds a second layer of protection that is available only to you.
Unique and strong passwords protect your accounts. If an attacker steals a password that’s used for one account only, they can’t access any other accounts. Using unique passwords, combined with a 2FA, means that your accounts, content and personal data are well protected.
It’s often difficult to tell what is phishing and what isn’t. Therefore, think twice before opening anything you receive online. It’s important to be on your guard and remember that any link can take you to a phishing site. Don’t open links sent by random profiles or a source that you don’t trust – and remember phishing links can also be sent in emails from credible-looking sources.
There is no reason you need to react to trade offers quickly. Take your time, and make sure you know who you are trading with and what you are agreeing to trade.
These tips are good to remember outside the gaming world as well. Similar threats exist everywhere and it’s up to you to decide if you want to be prepared against the threats or take your chances.
Virgin Media Internet Security – the best online security for gaming
If you want gaming-optimised internet security, then the award-winning Virgin Media Internet Security has your back. It includes Gaming Mode which optimises performance for a smooth and secure gaming experience. All updates, scans and notifications are postponed, which releases more bandwidth and capacity for gaming.
Virgin Media Internet Security protects you from malware, blocks malicious websites and secures your online shopping and banking sessions. Having won awards for its security and speed, it’s the perfect choice for gamers.
You can try Virgin Media Internet Security obligation at no extra cost for the first 3 months, as payment details are taken at the end of the trial period. After that, it’s just £3 per month (or £30 a year). To get protected today simply register here, then install the software on all your PCs, laptops, mobiles and tablets.
Registration and installation required. Once you have registered for Virgin Media Internet Security, you will receive an email from F-Secure to install the app onto your devices (check your junk folder). The 3 months trial is only available once per Virgin customer. For use in one household, personal use only, devices that the account holder owns, not for business use, not permitted to sell licenses. Unlimited devices, after the first 15 devices will need to be registered via F‑Secure. £3 per month or annual subscription for £30.