Online gaming has become a favorite pastime for young and old alike as advances in technology and high-speed broadband availability has become more accessible. Online gamers are willing to invest time and money on high-end games. However, there are also users who are hesitant to indulge in online gaming for various reasons. Not all games are clean in content or free of malware. Let us take a look at some of the risks.
Online gaming risks are similar to the risks a normal computer user may face. These games can pose a risk to user’s privacy and can compromise computer security. They can pose both technological and social risks.
Online games can present the following technological risks to a user’s system or to the devices of gamers with whom they interact.
- Viruses and Worms: viruses or worms may be embedded in game files which the user may unknowingly allow on his system during installation
- Malicious software: sometimes the users are prompted to download a software plug-in to play a particular game. They may then be redirected to other sites where malicious software may be executed to damage the security and privacy of the user’s device
- Compromised game servers: if the game server on which the gaming software runs is compromised, all computers connected to it can also be compromised
- Server game concerns: intruders may try to compromise the server, if its security profile is not robust or the level of protection is low
- Unprotected game coding: game protocols of certain games may not have been tested sufficiently and this can sometimes cause vulnerability on the user’s computer or device
The Internet has made it possible for gamers to interact with an online community to chat, talk and play different games across the globe. This interactivity can be exploited by intruders who may use the interactive environment to expose users to software threats and vulnerabilities. The intruder may try to do any of the following:
- Social Engineering: social engineers may target an online user and try to befriend them on social media sites. They may convince the user to install software on their computer, which can give them control on the user’s computer and monitor online activities. They may use this as an opportunity to steal personal information, send inappropriate email or text messages to other users on their contact list. This cause a high risk for users to lose their identity and reputation
- Identity Theft: intruders may try to steal a user’s personal information and carry out an identity fraud attack
- Virtual mugging: this term came into being when some players of Lineage II used a software program called bots that could be run over the web to defeat another player’s character in the game and seize their items
- Online gambling: most online games promise rewards to winners and many users have got addicted to such gambling sites and have lost money. Once addicted to these games, it is difficult for gamers to stay away. Gambling online and offline is a crime. Don’t participate in it
Internet Addiction: Teenagers who develop an attraction and strong desire towards online gaming may develop addiction to the Internet causing physical and mental health problems.
Yet, online gaming has its own benefits, including a distressing mechanism and in order to enjoy these benefits, here are some good practices to follow:
- Use antivirus and antispyware programs
- Do not open attachments from people whom you do not know in person. Any attachment must be scanned completely before opening them
- Verify the authenticity and security of new software and updates
- Configure web browser safety
- Install a secure firewall
- Always take back up of financial and personal data available on the system
- Ensure use of strong passwords
- Patch and update application software regularly
- Follow a timeline when playing online games and prefer playing with a friend or family member
- Know the genre of games and always take advise of family members before purchasing or playing these games
To learn more about how to game online safely, you can visit Safe Space website.