Gamer’s Guide to Cybersecurity: Staying Safe and Secure Online

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Gaming after school is the favorite pastime of students around the world. That’s why there are more than 3 billion gamers worldwide. It doesn’t matter if it’s Fortnite, Minecraft, or a simple game of Candy Crush. Gaming allows you to decompress, be entertained, and spend some time doing what you love.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t people trying to take advantage of it. Back in 2019, hackers targeted Fortnite, and millions of gamers were exposed to getting hacked. The breach was secured almost instantly, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t happen again.

Schools and educational institutions are implementing learning through gaming, but they’re also storing massive amounts of student data. Cybersecurity is now a part of our lives, and students need to be aware that they are their biggest threat to getting hacked. It all starts with teaching, so here are some measures to minimize the risk of cyber-attacks.

Know the threats

Downloading games from suspicious websites is the number one cause of malware attacks. Some games might cost fifty bucks on Steam or Epic Games, but most gamers want to bypass it and play a cracked version for free. That usually comes with a virus that can steal all of your information.

The same thing works when trying to get skins by completing events or clicking on links outside of the game. You should consider everything that doesn’t stem from the game or its official social media profiles as a phishing scam or a try at planting malware on your device.

Don’t share your information online

There’s a reason why gamers use nicknames and pseudonyms. Your personal information should be a top secret when you’re gaming. Even when you’re playing with your friends in a co-op environment, try to limit talk about school, where you live, or identity details.

Hackers are lurking, and they never look like they do in the movies. A harmless conversation for when you’ll be going later with your friends can give information to cyber criminals for when to strike and steal your account, the credit card associated with it, or do something even worse.

Be wary of scams

Emails that you’ve won an item in a game or large amounts of an in-game currency will likely land in your inbox. That’s a prime example of a phishing scam to trick you into giving hackers personal information.

You should treat anything that leads you to click on a link as suspicious. Hackers can make mirrors of websites that make it look like you’re visiting an official page. But the distinction will be in the URL or in the sender’s name.

Use a VPN

Because scams are hard to notice until it’s too late, it’s recommended to use a virtual private network. VPNs protect your identity online by masking your IP address, which means you can pretend to be from another country. Most gamers believe that using a VPN on Xbox will make their experience slower, and that used to be true a few years ago. Now there are more servers, and using one doesn’t make a difference when browsing. You get all of the security benefits with no increase in ping.

Use an antivirus

VPNs and antiviruses go together like peanut butter and jam. Anything that passes through the safety net of a virtual private network will fall into the hands of an antivirus. If you click on a malicious link and something starts downloading, an antivirus program will stop it and mark it as unsafe. Malware will not be a problem if you have two lines of defense against cyber threats.

Make regular updates

Gamers hate updates just like everyone else. Nothing feels worse than picking up a game after a few weeks only to be hit with a 20-gigabyte download before you start playing. However, system and software updates should be mandatory.

Outdated software is full of exploits that have been solved in the newer version. That’s why, whenever you see the update button, click it and enjoy the few minutes of waiting because you’ll have a safer device.

Have a strong password

Don’t use your gamer tag as a password! You should have a different password for every account you use. Imagine if you had one key for your house, your car, garage, and office. If someone were to steal your key, they would take everything without a trace.

The same thing is true in the online world. Your password is the key to your account, so make sure you’re using symbols, numbers, and letters. An alternative is to use a phrase or a sentence, which makes it tougher to crack.

Socialize safely

The friends you meet while gaming can stay with you for a lifetime. But the community is also filled with bullies and online predators. Remember to protect your well-being and report and block people who participate in abusive behavior.

Don’t share personal information, and be very wary about meeting somebody you only know online. Anyone can make an account and pretend they go to a school near you. Never say your real name, where you live, where you go to school, where your parents work, and info that would compromise your real identity.

A few final words

Newbies and pro gamers have the same cybersecurity risks. It doesn’t matter whether you’re climbing leaderboards, having fun with friends, or trying to build the best Minecraft house. There are many risks that are associated with gaming that you need to be aware of. Following the tips to protect yourself online will help you have a better experience and more fun. 

Stay tuned to Last Word on Gaming for all the latest gaming news and reviews.


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