Between 2017 and 2019, hackers carried out over 12 billion credential-stealing activities against gamers. Since there were 55 billion such attacks in total, players alone account for 20% of all victims. That’s why it’s crucial to learn more about similar cyber threats and know how to protect yourself.
Plenty of Potential Targets
One of the main reasons hackers target gamers is because they’re a lot of them. In 2019, the global revenue of the gaming industry reached $147 billion. Along with this, the most popular games have tens of millions of players, so there are now more targets than ever.
Cybercriminals often lure competitive players looking for a way to gain an advantage over their opponents. Fortnite is one example of this. Cybercriminals devised an “aimbot” which was supposed to provide players with better aim. Not only did the “aimbot” not improve aim, but it was also ransomware that affected over 50,000 computers.
Of course, all kinds of gamers are at risk. You can find threat actors in all environments, not only the competitive ones.
The Inherent Risk of Digital Marketplaces
Thinking of digital marketplaces, platforms like Amazon and eBay come to mind. But a lot has changed since their early days, and you can now feel quite safe purchasing something there. In case of an issue, problem resolution services are in place to ensure customer satisfaction.
But when it comes to gaming, the largest marketplace is Steam. It takes billions of dollars each year. Both independent developers and the most prominent players in the industry use Steam to show off their games. But Steam and other platforms have many security flaws.
Cybersecurity experts picked up countless issues over time. One ethical hacker found a bug that could have allowed him to control players’ computers as well as steal credit info and launch other attacks. In short, vulnerabilities can be anywhere in these digital marketplaces.
The Lure of In-Game Items
Nowadays, in-game items are a staple of almost all video games. They also provide an attractive target for criminals who can swap these items for profit.
In-game items pose all kinds of risks. It’s easy for hackers to target players, steal their items, then sell them to other unwitting players. Since gamers are willing to spend money, it makes them particularly tempting targets.
And it’s not only money but time too.
Countless people have fallen for thefts as simple as “I can power up this item for you if you let me hold it for a moment.” It’s easy to say some players are naïve. But attacks like these are becoming more sophisticated and challenging for even the more adept player to recognize.
Gamers are Often Off-Guard
Games are places where people usually aren’t on high alert. Most games have dedicated fans who have been playing for years. These environments are comfortable and relaxed places for them. They’re not expecting to find malware and threat actors in a game.
Hackers are smart too. They know how to package malware into something that seems harmless. In 2018, for example, hackers disguised malware as game skins and infected over 50,000 Minecraft accounts.
Here you don’t even have an example of gamers being too competitive or naïve. They were only using one of the most straightforward and most-loved features of the game. That’s what makes hackers so dangerous because they know how to target all types of players.
How to Prevent Hacks from Happening to You
Don’t worry; you don’t have to delete your Steam account and go back to the world of NES cartridges. You can have secure gaming sessions by following these simple strategies:
- Hackers always target login credentials first. So, secure your accounts with long, unique, and different passwords. Use a premium Chrome password manager if you can’t remember them all.
- Scan all links before you click them. Hackers tend to create fake landing pages designed to harvest credentials or implant malware.
- Never download cheat codes from third party websites even on sites that look legit. These are often malware disguised as cheat codes.
- Ensure your computer, internet browser, anti-malware software, and the game is always up to date.
- If someone hacks your Steam or another digital marketplace account, report it to the platform immediately. Likewise, notify your bank and credit card companies that someone has compromised your card. You can also set up a fraud alert to track changes in all your accounts.
- In the case of ransomware, disconnect your computer immediately. Then take it to an IT professional. Don’t try to remove it on your own as it may result in further damage.
Take the upper hand against cybercriminals. Start following the best cybersecurity strategies to prevent hacks from happening to you.