Not one month seems to go by without a major game company experiencing a data breach or some other hacking incidents. So what can you do to withstand the barrage of cyber attacks and secure your gaming accounts in this day and age?
Well, there are a few quick steps you can take right now to put you ahead of the curve. First off, use some of the most secure gaming VPNs to cross quite a few types of cyber attacks off the threat list.
Encrypt Your Data with a Gaming VPN
When you browse the Internet without protection, your Internet provider can see everything you do online. Hackers can also gain this ability by:
- Stealing your Wi-Fi password through security exploits that affect even the current generation of Wi-Fi encryption protocols.
- Extracting your data from unsecured (read: password-less) public Wi-Fi with network analysis software you can easily find online.
- Luring you into an Evil Twin hotspot attack – basically creating a mimic network that looks identical to your local café’s Wi-Fi, for example. Once you’re connected, the same analysis tools help them extract sensitive data off your mobile devices.
Luckily, a VPN encrypts (i.e. garbles) your online traffic, including emails, passwords, and other sensitive data you transmit on a daily basis. This keeps your accounts safe from hackers, as well as hides your browsing activity from greedy ISPs looking to sell your data to advertisers.
And while it wasn’t built for this purpose, using a VPN for gaming has another fortunate side effect. More details below.
Protect Against DoS Attacks with a VPN
Cyber attackers don’t always go after your accounts, but they can ruin your online experience in other ways. For example, forcibly crashing your network with a Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack. What this means is that the attacker floods your IP address with unwanted data to slow down your connection, and in some cases taking it offline entirely.
Ever experienced sudden slowdowns and connection loss just as you’re about to win a match? Now you know why. And yes, people can be that petty about losing at online games. Luckily, a VPN masks your real IP and assigns a new one based on the server you’re connected to. Your attacker will essentially be trying to DoS your VPN provider, which is more than capable of defending itself.
What a VPN can’t help against, however, is phishing attacks. Well, some providers’ VPN apps automatically block known phishing and malware domains, but you still need to be vigilant.
Watch Out for Phishing Attacks
Phishing is basically a cool-sounding way of saying that a hacker is using a fake email and/ or website to get you to willingly hand over your data. These types of attacks have ramped up significantly ever since the start of the pandemic, with Google blocking over 18 million scam emails every single day. It’s the oldest trick in the book, but it’s still the biggest contributor to stolen passwords to this day.
The most infamous example of a phishing email involves imitating a legit organization (Valve, GOG, PSN, etc.) One common tactic is to instill an immediate sense of panic in the victim. “Your account has been locked. Take action now!”
Suddenly your neurons are flaring up. You need to enter your login details into this totally trustworthy website. Next thing you know, your account has been stolen, as the hacker is twiddling his cartoonishly long villain mustache.
Seriously, though – always double check that you’re on the correct website when opening an email link. Or better yet, manually type the website name into your browser to be 100% sure. Alternatively, you can just bookmark your most commonly used websites and open them that way. If there’s actually a problem with your account, then you should be notified when you log in.
And believe us, 99% of the time there aren’t any. The other 1% of the time, your gaming account may have been involved in a data breach. You don’t have much control over that (other than not using any online services), but there is a way to minimize the ensuing damage.
Use Unique Passwords on All Your Accounts
You might think this is common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many people use insecure passwords like 123456 for their primary accounts.
If you can’t be bothered to jot down all your passwords, try using password managing software instead. They can also indirectly help against phishing, since the software will not input your password unless you’re on the right website.
Want to go one step further? Use separate emails for all your gaming accounts. People end up with stolen emails, passwords, and other personal information all the time through these massive breaches. By using a separate email on these services, your other accounts aren’t left exposed. Losing one account can be painful, but it’s definitely better than having to sift through all your others and change passwords all week.