Online gaming is hugely popular, but with a growing global audience comes the increased risk of being targeted by hackers, scammers and all sorts of other malicious individuals and groups.
Because of the threats that exist, it is important for players to be aware of the biggest obstacles they face so that they can steer clear of them, while also taking some proactive steps to stay safe.
With that in mind, here is a look at a few ways you can keep yourself well protected while still enjoying all of the gaming experiences you love.
Only Play With Reputable Operators
It may seem obviously, but first and foremost you need to consider the reputation of the gaming services that you choose to use, and steer clear of any platforms and brands that are not tried and tested.
This applies whether you are a fan of fast-paced FPS titles, slower strategy games or exciting online casino sites. It is not just relevant because the biggest, more well established operators will have a vested interest in keeping players safe and the resources to do so, but also because they will offer the highest quality level of service overall. This covers everything from security to connection consistency to things like casino marker availability. You can learn more about what a casino marker is to make sure you are up to speed with what is involved, as well as the good operator reputation that this can entail.
Keep Private Information to Yourself
While you might be worried about having your device hacked or your connection compromised when you are gaming online, the biggest threat you face comes from your own indiscretion.
In short, whenever you are online you should avoid giving away personal information to anyone else, even if you feel like you have built up a good rapport with them by playing games together. Social engineering tactics are widely used by fraudsters to extract sensitive data from unsuspecting victims, and online gaming services are especially rife with this kind of activity.
If someone asks for your real name, home or email address, login details, payment card info or anything else, no matter the reason or the excuse, do not give it to them. It is better to be impolite than risk having your identity stolen.
Avoid Playing Over Public Networks
When you are hooked up to your home internet service either via a wired or wireless connection, you will be in complete control of who has access and will usually know that this is limited to yourself and other members of your household. This makes it the safest way to game online, as it will be unlikely that any unknown entities are piggybacking on your network.
Conversely, if you are in a public place and there is a Wi-Fi hotspot available for everyone to use, this is a far less secure form of connection, especially if it is not protected by a password.
Factor in the possibility of hackers deliberately spoofing legitimate hotspots to dupe members of the public into connecting and leaving their devices open to exploitation, and you can see why there are myriad risks associated with gaming in this way.
That is not to say that every public hotspot should be avoided altogether; you just need to be aware of what problems may arise and also conscious that carrying out sensitive transactions, or committing to extended sessions of play, will leave you more exposed.
So long as you have adequate high speed mobile network coverage wherever you are, as well as a data plan that supports plenty of activity in the course of each month, turning off your Wi-Fi and using your 4G or 5G connection instead will be the safest way to play online when you are on the move and not in range of your home connection.
Keep Software Up to Date & Avoid Using Exploits
Hackers who target online games usually take advantage of software flaws and unpatched vulnerabilities to cause mayhem, so it is vital that you install software updates not just for the games you play as soon as they are made available, but also for things like your operating system, web browser and any antivirus solution you are using.
Finally, remember to avoid the temptation to take advantage of third party exploits designed to ‘hack’ games themselves and give you perks like auto-aim and other cheats. Not only is this unsporting, but many of these programs are themselves infected with malware. Keep your wits about you, play fair and you should be able to game online safely.