Online gaming is now one of the most popular ways to play, with 700 million of the world’s 1.2 billion gamers playing on the internet. That’s a significant number, and it also accounts for 44% of the world’s online population. It stands to reason, then, that hackers would target this thriving sector. The recent WannaCry cyber hacking incident in May this year served as a timely reminder of just how vulnerable the worldwide web can be, as an estimated 200,000 targets were affected. Gamers should realise that online games are just as much a target as anything else, and ensure that they are well protected against such cyber criminals.
Malicious software can be downloaded to your computer in a matter of seconds, purely by you clicking on something you shouldn’t have done. Around 40% of the world’s population uses the internet regularly, and if you’re in that group then you are at risk of cyber attacks. Attackers often use SQL injection, which is a common attack vector that utilities malicious SQL code for backend database manipulation to access information that was not intended to be displayed. This can range from personal internet banking details to full employee lists at major companies and organizations. If the information gets into the hands of a hacker it could be devastating. Ways to prevent this code making its way in are firewalls and software that uses signature recognition, IP reputation, and other security methods to block SQL injections.
Players who enjoy the flourishing MMO market, which earned $19.8 billion in 2016 should take past security breaches as a warning. In 2011, the popular South Korean MMORPG MapleStory experienced an intrusion on its backup database, and the details of around 13 million players were stolen. This data included players’ names, passwords, user IDs and social security numbers. Once cyber criminals have this information they can attempt to use the passwords elsewhere, getting to email inboxes, bank accounts and more. This serves as a stark reminder that people should use different passwords for each site, never using the same password on more than one website.
More recently, PlayStation and Xbox users were the victims of a massive data breach in 2015. Hackers managed to steal the credentials of over 2.5 million accounts from popular gaming forums, and the data included usernames, passwords, accounts, and IP addresses. The forums used were ones which allowed players to download free and pirated games, and this incident highlighted one more the risk associated with acquiring software from illegal channels. It has also been noted that this information is often sold on the Dark Web and used to commit attacks at a later date, so anyone who believes their credentials may have been acquired by third parties should change their password even if they haven’t noticed any suspicious activity on their online accounts. This wasn’t the first PlayStation security breach either, with hacker group “Lizard Squad” shutting down online networks in 2014.
Gamers shouldn’t be put off playing their favourite games online, of course. But to make the most out of it and not have to worry, it is wise to protect yourself before playing. The best way to do that would be to make sure you have up-to-date, robust security software and keep up to date with new developments in cyber security.