Online gaming communities represent incredibly lucrative opportunities to cybercriminals. In a wide range of cases, these communities are millions of players strong – which makes for databases crammed full of invaluable data, and countless people for whom security is not necessarily a priority during gameplay.
In a much broader context, online threats are growing increasingly advanced, with many hackers refining their approach as they target both the corporate world, and the individual. We have, in recent years, seen a number of high profile breaches that have rendered thousands – and, in some cases, millions – of gamers vulnerable to data theft.
And, with the gaming community continuing to grow and evolve into new areas as we edge deeper into the 2020s, there will inevitably be a new wave of threats and risks for which we need to be prepared. Read more about the improvements we have seen in the online gaming circuit below.
The Rise of Crypto
The concept of a digital currency is nothing new – Bitcoin has been simmering away for more than ten years now, and giving rise to a massive array of other virtualised assets that offer security and anonymity over and above what is offered by centralised networks.
Its proliferation among the average internet users has, however, been somewhat slow to take on – although it is now finding many applications, particularly within the world of online gambling.
In the online casino, users can make deposits via Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in order to play anonymously online – circumventing the need to divulge any sensitive, personal information about themselves, while still being able to play for real money.
Similarly, the marking for Ethereum-based games has grown. From CryptoKitties to MLB Champions, crypto is growing increasingly prevalent in online gaming.
Two Factor Authentication
A number of high-profile online gaming providers have enabled two-factor authentication for account users, and choosing to adopt this additional line of defense is often incentivised by developers in order to make users as safe as possible.
Blizzard, for instance, offer in-game items to players who enable two-factor authentication, which provides a much stronger barrier against hackers than a password alone.
Similarly, as of April this year, Epic Games made two factor authentication mandatory for all users for a month. While the policy is no longer in effect, it signals a move toward encouraging better practices for user.
VPN Usage on the Rise
While not a guarantee for total privacy, a virtual private network offers one of the simplest and most effective security measures for at-home users, whether they are working remotely or torrenting.
For many years now, many gamers have felt unsure about their ability to put a VPN to good use when gaming. From worries over the impact a private network will have on speed to individual policies from games distribution services, such as Steam – who seek to prevent users from masking their location in order to access cheaper regional prices – the internet is littered with articles debunking gamers’ concerns over the use of VPNs.
But, thanks to greater publicity and endorsement from popular streamers – and growing awareness among the general public about the risks posed to the average computer user, whether at home or using a public Wi-Fi network – VPN usage is increasing, and offering more and more users the opportunity to shield their personal details from others on the web.
We can anticipate further changes to the ways in which gamers are being kept secure online. As the scene evolves over the next few years, so too will the risks, and vigilance will remain key to ensuring that the industry remains supported by a concern for – and from – the players themselves.