Fortnite, Call of Duty Black Ops 4, Red Redemption 2, Spiderman, and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. If you are the parent of a teenager, you know all about some of these popular online games, and you may even play some yourself. What you may not know is that while your child is fully engaged in his or her favorite online game, he or she may be in the digital crosshairs of a cyber thief.
According to reports, more than 2.2 billion video gamers helped bring that industry more than $108 billion in revenue in 2017, so it’s not surprising that scammers are following the money.
McAfee Gaming Survey
A recent gaming survey from McAfee uncovered some valuable insights into the gaming world and security. The good news is that most gamers have cybersecurity on their radar (75% of PC gamers chose online security as the issue that most concerned them about the future of gaming). The not-so-good news is that of the gamers surveyed; most still aren’t practicing the best online habits such as reusing passwords across multiple accounts (55%). In addition, the average gamer has experienced almost five cyberattacks due to poor security habits (see graphic, right).
Online cheats or downloads. Gamers love to get and edge on their favorite game, so when they go search online for cheats or someone sends them a link for a cheat or download, they will likely click. That fake cheat can lead to malware, bitcoin theft, or identity theft.
Fake apps. Scammers are capitalizing on favorite games such as Red Dead Redemption 2 by luring users to download the game for free only to trick them into divulging their personal information. Remember, if you come across a download offer that seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Fraudulent trades. Many games often include extras that a gamer can buy for their characters such as weapons, armor, skins, or clothing. Some scammers will offer to purchase or trade items outside of the platform and then dupe the buyer through a phishing link that gains access to his or her credit card information.
Impersonation/Catfishing. Some scammers go to great lengths to access a gamer’s personal information. They will befriend a gamer over time, gain trust, and take advantage of the gamer emotionally or financially in some way.
Account takeovers. This scam is when a hacker gains access to a legitimate player’s account (usually a popular player), blocks that user from accessing his or her account, and uses that account to send out spammy emails, fake offers, and malicious links.
Gaming Safety Tips
- Don’t reuse passwords. It may take a minute or two longer to log into your favorite games, but there’s a significant layer of protection when you use a unique password for each of your online accounts. Reusing passwords allows a hacker to gain access to multiple accounts once you’ve been compromised.
- Use a firewall. Gamers should use a firewall to help block would-be attackers from gaining access to their PC and home networks.
- Smart clicking. Gaming is immersive. Because of that, crooks know that players may have their guards down. Players should never impulsively click on links in messages from people they don’t know. One wrong click can lead to malware, ransomware, or other phishing schemes.
- Add extra security. It’s always a good idea to put another layer of protection between you and a hacker. To protect devices from malware and other threats, use a comprehensive security solution like McAfee Total Protection.
- Browse with caution. Scammers may target gamers through other popular websites like YouTube and Twitter to push out malicious content. Be wise when browsing these sites and keep your guard up when clicking on any game link or offer.
- Act fast. If you suspect a scam within a game, report it to the developers immediately to help stop the spread and protect other users.