This year more than others, for many of us, it’s gaming that’s gotten us through. Lockdowns, uncertainty, and some pretty darn good releases have kept our computers and consoles switched on in 2020. GamesIndustry.biz, a website tracking the gaming sector, reported a record number of concurrent users on the gaming platform Steam for several weeks as the lockdown went into effect.
According to NationalToday.com, the authority for such days, video games are an $18 billion industry that trace their origins to the halls of prestigious educational institutions like Oxford University and MIT. Not surprisingly given, the nature of our work, they’ve captured the hearts and imaginations of a good number of here at Webroot. But again, due to the nature our work, we’re well attuned to video game-related hacks and scams.
This March, 66 malicious gaming apps were discovered to have evaded reviewers and found their way into the Google Play store. In April, just as coronavirus was beginning to keep most of us indoors, Nintendo was breached and the accounts of more than 300,000 gamers were compromised. Phishing attacks posing as gaming platforms have risen significantly during this time period.
But too often we hear from gamers that they don’t use an antivirus. With all the time gamers spend online, especially PC gamers, this is a big risk. Many of the reasons we hear for not using an antivirus, in fact, are based on misconceptions.
So, to clear up some of those misconceptions, and to provide some tips for spending National Video Games Safely, we sat down with cybersecurity expert and resident gamer Tyler Moffitt to get his advice.
What kinds of security threats do gamers face?
Not running any security is the main one. It’s a big problem within the gaming community. There are also tailored phishing attempts for online games where accounts can be worth over $100. The happen on platforms including Blizzard, Steam, Epic, Riot and others.
Why do cybercriminals target gamers?
They can be a niche target when big things happen like major game releases. Halo, World of Warcraft, Grand Theft Auto, and Call of Duty have all been targets for scams. But PC gamers not running any antivirus solution other than built-in or free protection are asking for trouble.
Either by game or gaming type, what tends to be the biggest target for hackers?
The way most players are infected with actual malware and not just giving up account info is by downloading game hacks. These are usually aim bots or other ways to cheat at the game. In addition to making games less fun for other players, they endanger the cybersecurity of the individuals doing the cheating. Also, trying to download games for free on torrent sites is just asking for trouble…or a trojan
Any misconceptions about gaming security?
I’d the biggest one is that all antiviruses today will cause problems with gameplay. Many players imagine they’ll have issues with latency, or their frame rate will drop off significantly, and that’s just not true. While years ago this may have been the case with heavy installation suites and large daily definition updates, many anti-viruses has changed throughout the years to do all the heavy lifting in the cloud while still being lightning fast and accurate with threats. The amount of CPU, RAM and bandwidth usage of AVs while idle and during a scan are significantly lighter than they used to be.
What can gamers do to improve online security?
As I mentioned, running an antivirus is essential. There are lightweight options available that won’t impact gameplay. Also, I recommend enabling two-factor authentication on all accounts for online games whenever possible to reduce the risk of falling victim to a malicious hacker.
As a gamer yourself, anything else to consider or personal best practice to share?
Trying to cheat or download premium games for free, especially when prompted to by clickbait-type ads, will almost always lead to a scam or malware. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
See how Webroot compares to competitors in terms of installation size, scan time, and resource use in in third-party performance testing here.