The online gaming community has had a steady growth in recent years, extending its reach and going beyond gaming on personal computers (PC) to include gaming on smart devices. Based on a survey conducted by Trend Micro Malaysia recently, 75% of the survey respondents play games online. Out of which 41% of the respondents play games regularly at least twice a week and 55% are social media gamers, integrating social networking into their gaming experience.
It is interesting to note that an estimated 53% of the Trend Micro survey respondents had inadvertently clicked on a compromised link with 44% downloading a virus through direct download sites. Compromised links connected to mobile games apps are the second highest threat to gamers.
Online gaming is a breakthrough in gaming history but it has caused new concerns among gamers on the rising social and technological risks.
Cybercriminals are able to exploit vulnerabilities in the web and mobile system, creating game hacks with download links or corrupt programs that contain Trojan horses, spyware, viruses or worms hidden in the game files, leading to a system infection.
Malicious individuals could also take advantage of the social networks associated with online games to entice you to visit bogus websites or open email attachments that contain malicious software that can be used for illicit purposes.
Gamers are also susceptible to financial theft that can happen via scams when players purchase items via Real Money Trading (RMT).
Due to the nature of the highly progressive online social gaming trend and system vulnerabilities, some of the games are linked to social networking accounts that could lead to invasion of privacy and personal information theft.
Information can be gathered from the gaming profiles created and used to steal your identity to establish accounts in your name or used to access your existing financial accounts.
There are also concerns for parents as underage gamers can be exposed to excessive suggestive or foul languages and imagery by their fellow gamers.
Get the most out of your gaming experience by:
- Avoiding suspicious players. Casual games are rife with badly behaving players, stay away from them.
- Refraining from “befriending” strangers. As much as possible, only add players that you know in real life.
- Separating your gaming and social lives. Taking control of the social networking permissions of your game accounts will protect your real identity and refrain from sharing too much personal information online.
- Try not to purchase virtual goods with real money. Only purchase in-game premiums if you’re sure that you can control your spending
- Protect your account password. Ensure that your password is easy to remember but hard to guess.
- Use authenticators when applicable. Some Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) offer authenticators to prove to the system that you are really who you are as an added layer of protection.
- Download from trustworthy game sites. Only install apps and games from official stores associated with your platforms of choice whether it’s the Apple App Store, Android Market and direct download game sites.
- Install a full-scale security solution. Avoid storing personal information on gaming devices and consider using security software that protects PCs, tablets and smartphones as well.
“Threats on computers, smart devices, and applications have gone full throttle this year. Mobile and web-based threats are victimizing users with fake banking apps and FakeAV distributed through social engineering schemes. Cybercriminals have found more sophisticated ways to bypass security, not just through malicious applications anymore but the Android “Master Key” vulnerability is a key threat today.” said Goh Chee Hoh, Managing Director, SEA Region, Trend Micro Inc.
“Online gaming threats tend to have the same aim as any other cyber threat: to steal your personal and financial information. No matter what device you use, whether you’re more of a mobile or web user, you need to scrutinize your computing habits and look into vulnerability patching and extending mobile protection to include more than just app scanning,” continued Goh.