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Kids' Safety

Video game security: How to stay safe while gaming

Well, you have spent weeks on finishing your last mission and reached the end. Victory is very close to you and suddenly your screen goes black, losing all your progress and locking your account. You have been hacked and now you have to struggle to lock your bank account before become victim of a cyberattack.

Whether you’re a professional gamer, a casual player, or the parent of a child glued to their PC, you are at higher risk of a cyberattack - if you don’t have protection for your devices. Unfortunately, there are several ways hackers can access your information while playing online and turn that information into profit. With the proper protection, you can stop hackers in their tracks before they become a problem. But, first, you have to know what you’re up against.

Common video game threats

  • Infection
    • The oldest trick in the book is still one of the most effective — and infective. When the gamers try to find a cheaper or free version of their favourite games available for download, they risk downloading malware and viruses instead. This threat isn’t just from illegally downloaded games. Cheat codes and other items bought through third-party sellers, could pose a high-level risk.
  • Account takeover
    • No doubt it’s much easier to use the same username and password for all of your favourite gaming platforms. However, it’s a signal to hackers to gain access to all of your accounts. In fact, hackers probably count on you not being able to remember multiple log-ins, giving them the ultimate upper hand.
  • Swatting and doxxing
    • After cybercriminals find your personal information, they could publish your home address and phone number online or send law enforcement to your home by reporting a fake emergency. Not only is this scary, but it’s dangerous. This is a hacker’s way of saying they know where you live and how to find you.
  • Active listening
    • When you’re having a conversation, active listening is a good thing. But when you accidentally leave your mic, camera, or screen capture on and mention or show any personal information, you may be at risk of a swat attack, dox attack, or your bank account being hacked.

Video game threats for children

  • Cyberbullying
    • Griefers are the players who purposely harass and provoke other players with the intention of spoiling their enjoyment in an online environment. Having the ability to hide behind avatars and characters makes it easy to create an alter ego who thrives off aggravating others.
    • Solution: Cyberbullies use online social videogames to find and harass their victims. In order to get rid of them, one should try taking a screenshot of the bullying. Make sure their username is visible and report them to the video game’s admins. You can also try blocking the bully to prevent them from interacting with your character online.
  • Privacy
    • Children are more likely to disclose their details compared to teens and adults. From their perspective, it makes sense to share everything about themselves because that’s how friends are made. However, by using normal friend-making tactics with strangers online — such as telling other players where they live, how old they are, where they go to school, or using identifying information in their usernames and passwords — children may risk putting themselves and their families in danger.
    • Solution: Teach your child not to share personal or identifying information with strangers online. Even though they play together, they don’t truly know that person or their intentions. Sit down with kids and go over their account’s privacy settings to make sure they stay safe while gaming.
  • Predators
    • Predators may create gaming accounts specifically to befriend kids through online gameplay. After gaining their friendship, they might lure children into meeting up offline.
    • Solution: Research which of your child’s favourite games include social features such as chat boxes and mic options. This way you’ll know when to closely monitor your child’s in-game interactions and report any suspicious activity.
  • In-game purchases
    • Possibly the most common video game threat for children is one that mostly affects their parents’ bank accounts. Some kids might use their father’s or mother’s credit card to make in-game purchases without their parent’s knowledge. And due to the existence of friendly fraud — when consumers make a purchase and then request a chargeback from their bank — it can be extremely difficult for parents to get their money back.
    • Solution: If your child needs your credit card for making an account or purchasing something online, make sure you’re the one inputting the card information. This way, if there is an option to add the credit/debit card information for all in-game purchases, you can make sure the box is unchecked. It might also be a good idea to enable password protected purchases wherever possible.

Understanding parental controls

  • Review game ratings
    • One of the things you should always do when purchasing a game for your child is check the ESRB rating (Entertainment Software Rating Board) to make sure it’s age appropriate. However, in most of the online games, the in-game player-to-player interaction is not monitored by the ESRB. So even if your child’s game is rated E for everyone, it’s important to still monitor their online interactions.
  • Set up parental controls for each child
    • If your children are in different age groups, you should consider setting up parental controls within their separate accounts. That way, your 12-year-old can have little more freedom than their 7-year-old sibling, while still being safe online. 
  • Stay aware of future updates
    • Popular video games often introduce new updates that may make it easier for strangers to connect with children. Many video game developers have settings where parents can receive notices about these updates and adjust their children’s privacy settings accordingly.
  • In-game control settings
    • Many popular video games include in-game parental control features. Besides adjusting the control settings on your child’s account, you should consider modifying the settings within their favourite video games as well.

How to protect yourself while gaming

  • Use strong, unique passwords
    • One of the easiest ways to help protect yourself is by making sure your passwords are different across all platforms. If you want to go the extra mile, then you can even update your passwords once every month. When creating your password, make sure you use a combination of upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers and symbols to make it as strong as possible. A long password that only you would know is another option. You might even want to look into using two-factor authentication so that you’re the only person who can access your accounts.
  • Don’t share personal information
    • From using your real name or location in your username to saying your personal information out loud through your headset, there are many ways you can accidentally let something slip while playing video games online. It’s best to make sure that there are no identifying factors on the display in your username. Make sure not to share any personal details on gaming forums. You can even use a VPN to disguise your IP address and stop hackers from trying to gain access to your console or PC.
  • Only download from reputable sources
    • Third-party add-ons, illegal downloads, and cheat codes may seem like a good idea at the start. However, the consequences outweigh the promised benefits. You can keep your computer and yourself safe by avoiding third-party systems and ditching illegally downloaded video games.
  • Use up-to-date, secure equipment
    • Keep your worries to a minimum by downloading security software specifically designed to keep gamers safe. Make sure to update your devices and the software regularly to keep everything up to date and running smoothly.

Whether you’re a parent of a gaming child or an avid gamer yourself, consider installing a security suite designed for gamers to help assure protection for your PC, game accounts, and all digital assets.

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