Online gaming is bigger than ever. Millions of people log on to gaming websites and entertainment platforms like Steam every day. Often, you can play for free, but that really isn’t the point. No, the attraction of online gaming in all its forms is that it is something you can do anytime, anyplace, and anywhere. So if you are stuck on a stationery train on the morning commute, have a quick game of poker, online bingo or Sudoku, or if you are waiting for the dinner to cook, why not jump on the desktop and continue your World of Warcraft game?
The truth is that we love online gaming. It takes us away from the stresses and strains of everyday life. Immersing ourselves in an exciting game means we can forget about the office, the kids, and our partner, albeit only for a short time. On the face of it, online gaming is harmless entertainment, but unfortunately, many people end up losing more than their temper after a gaming session.
In order to play on many online games, you need to register for an account. As part of the registration process you will be asked to type in your name and other personal details. You may also be asked to hand over credit card details if the game isn’t free or is subscription only, which games like World of Warcraft usually are.
We are all familiar with the process of creating user accounts and buying things online, but cyber security is a huge issue and many users get caught out. Handing over personal information and payment details instantly puts you at risk of identity theft and theft. The only way to avoid this is not to go online. Since that won’t be an option if you or your kids are online gaming freaks, here are some tips to help you ensure your information stays safe and secure when you game online.
Install a Security Suite
Security suites and firewalls help to keep your computer or other internet enabled device safe from hackers and other cyber criminals. Never play an online game without having security features updated and enabled.
Clean Your Machine
Run antivirus scans at least once a week. This will ensure your computer isn’t infected with malware that copies your personal information and passwords before sending it to cyber criminals.
Create Strong Passwords
This one is so simple, yet millions of people use passwords so simple even a ten-year-old could crack them. Yes, “password” or “admin” are not secure passwords!
It is difficult to remember passwords, so use a secure password locker to store your passwords. Ideally, they should be at least 12 characters long and contain a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols.
Create Generic Usernames
Do not use a generic username connected to your real name. It makes it a lot easier for criminals to find out your personal information and use it against you.
Don’t Download Unauthorised Games
Only purchase and download games from authorised websites. If you download game files from online forums or websites in the darkest corners of the net, the files are likely to be corrupted with malware and viruses.
Look Out for HTTPS
When you’re using a game that is accessed via a web browser, it’s important to check that it has HTTPS in the URL as opposed to purely HTTP. This is vital if you are being asked to hand over payment information, and is something all secure gaming sites should do. Just check out Sun Bingo as an example. HTTPS ensures that the information being passed is encrypted, making it much more secure.
Update Gaming Software
Keep your game software updated at all times. Older games are more vulnerable to hackers and cyber criminals, who insert malicious code into the software. Most online games automatically update when you connect, so make sure you enable this feature.
Don’t Reveal Personal Information
Online games usually have chat rooms and chat programs where players can communicate with friends and strangers. It’s a cool feature, but you should never reveal personal information in these forums, even if you think you know everyone in there.
The same applies to your online game profile. Do not reveal your date of birth, your age, and your full name and address, or your identity could be cloned and used to take out personal loans and credit cards in your name.
Tips for Parents
Parents should be aware of all of the above if their kids play online games. Stay engaged with what your kids are up to and make sure they fully understand the risks.
Online gaming is fun, but only if you know the risks – so protect yourself and your family and play safe.