World Video Game Day celebrates a market that continues to grow in both revenue and participants.
Although gaming started as a single-player activity, most now involve multiple players with an online community that is able to talk and interact with each other through headsets or send instant messages during the games.
Online gaming flourished especially during the global COVID lockdowns, as online gaming provided a much- needed outlet for entertainment and social interaction, with hundreds of thousands new accounts created and new communities born.
This was obviously a boon to would-be hackers, with an estimated 1 billion online gamers worldwide in 2020, with China, South Korea, and Japan having the biggest online gaming reach amongst the population according to Statistic.
They estimate that by 2025, online gaming audiences are projected to surpass 1.3 billion.
Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd., a leading provider of cybersecurity solutions globally, warns that now that gaming is one of the world’s largest entertainment industries, it is also one of the major targets of cybercriminals. Companies in the gaming industry that have fallen victim to cyberattack include CD Projekt Red, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft.
This is because gamers often hand over as much personal information to companies in this industry as they would to their employer, bank or when online shopping.
Three key tips from Check Point Software to stay ahead of online gaming threats:
1. Use two-factor authentication (2FA):
Many games make it easy for attackers to do their job; often, simply looking at another participant will reveal their username. For example, Battlefield 5 has a competitive mode for up to 64 players, meaning that a single game provides a cybercriminal with up to 63 usernames with which to test common or default passwords. It’s important to have two-factor authentication enabled – when a separate code is required if logging in from a new device – to keep accounts secure.
2. Beware of phishing:
Phishing campaigns frequently target users of popular games. A common tactic used by cybercriminals is to create a fake login page, or to impersonate a friend and attempt to send malicious links via chat platforms.
The shared interest in video games lends credibility and builds trust. Make sure to look out for anything that doesn’t look right and never click on any links.
3. Beware of ‘too good to be true’ promises:
In this world, malware propagation vectors often coincide with phishing methods. If Steam chat can be used to spread links to fake authentication pages, it can certainly be used to send links to unintentional or ‘drive-by’ malware downloads.
In the case of competitive gaming, many players can be convinced to willingly download malicious applications that promise ‘cheats’, hacks or other ways to gain advantage over other users.
You need to be aware of any such offers and only download applications from official app stores. Add to this the risk of malware managing to spread to devices connected to a corporate network, and the danger is much higher.
“Video games are an open door for many types of cyberattacks and taking extreme precautions is no longer an option but a necessity. Having two-factor authentication to access the account, installing protection software or knowing the signs of a phishing attack are key to avoid becoming the next victim. Online games are becoming more and more popular and by using them on a daily basis, it is very easy to let your guard down and become overconfident. The main problem is that cybercriminals are always alert and will not miss an opportunity to strike,” says Pankaj Bhula: Check Point’s EMEA Regional Director: Africa.