With online gaming, you’re often battling two enemies without realizing it. One’s the warrior or beast on your screen; the other is a silent thief operating in the background who tries to hack your files. These second actors aren’t trying to earn a new skin or rack up a high score; they want your entire record, including all your past purchases. While they’re at it, they might grab your financial details, too.
So how do you protect your family members against unseen attacks? The answer is multi-faceted. To start, focus on where you play, how you connect and what you share.
Lock Down Your Home System
You’re only as secure as the network you use. Routers, modems and Internet of Things (IoT) devices in your home can create unwanted exposure on the web.
Can you list of all the IoT devices living on your network? One way to check is to use a smartphone or laptop to search for nearby devices. Several apps will also detect the gamut of devices on your home system to study. Far too many home users fail to change the factory passwords or usernames for these devices. Admin is terrible, and default passwords are even worse.
Gamers encounter lots of password issues and even create a few for themselves. First, a significant percentage will share their passwords—with a friend, a classmate or even a stranger. That is not a clever move–ever. Talk to your kids often about this top issue.
Slay your family’s password reuse as if it were a fire-breathing dragon. A huge percentage of individuals with password-protected accounts reuse their login credentials on multiple accounts. The average consumer now uses 50 passwords, if not more, so reuse is understandable but toxic. And it’s far too common. A 2018 Virginia Tech study documented that 52% of users surveyed still commit this offense. The following year, a Google/Harris Poll yielded data showing recycle rates were still over 42%. Pandemic times turned up an even more alarming number of 60% reuse. Even some IT professionals reuse passcodes.
If your family is password challenged by reuse or oversharing, consider password manager software that should securely store hundreds of digital keys. Managers can auto-populate the data when a family member logs in to play. Some warn when passwords are easy to guess or have already been stolen. Look for those that only store a master code and possess other methods to store your data in heavily encrypted form.
Be sure you understand other storage issues, too. A sticky note is a No-No. Weak passwords can be dangerous, so run yours through a password evaluation tool or haveibeenpwned.com, a free service run by a top data security expert in Australia. HIBP will tell you whether your selected code is already in hackers’ hands and therefore in cracking dictionaries. The federal government also offers advice on choosing stronger passwords.
School Your Children on Sharing
Post a large poster of online No No’s by the computer your children use. A family meeting to discuss the issue helps with buy-in. It might include the following:
- We do not share passwords outside the immediate family.
- Administrator access will remain in a parent’s control. Yes, it may be a headache to intervene when your kid wants to add new software to a family computer, but it’s less annoying than a data breach.
- Personal data—genuine names and addresses top the list—should never be shared with others your children meet on gaming platforms.
- Serious social media risks exist for gamers. If you or your child is involved with a massively multiplayer role-playing game, your fellow players may come to seem like friends.
- Warn your kids about the many risks of oversharing. Someone posing as a child of a similar age could be an online predator.
Detour Around Free Cheat Sites
Cheats are part of gamer culture. Every player knows the feeling of being unable to pass a certain level, and cheat sheets abound for that reason. However, fellow gamers who direct you to a website to score “free cheats” are often motivated by greed. None of the family’s gamers should visit websites at a stranger’s direction. Ignore instant messages and emails that urge this behavior. You could land on a malware-riddled website that will download all sorts of nastiness onto your device.
Hopefully, your antivirus software is up to date and secure. The top tier of products should catch these redirections before opening a tainted web address or finding your device has downloaded malware. Still, a large percentage of users fail to keep their antivirus and operating systems up to date. You neglect that at your own risk.
Set a family policy on gamer cheats to thwart any dangerous activities and post it on your family rules list.
Streaming Service and Other Game Leaks
Streaming game services are a top breach target. The list of hacked designers is lengthy. In mid-June, Electronic Arts (EA) Games and Steam.com both dealt with compromises. Another recent attack hit Epic Game’s Fortnite blockbuster.
To check game data leaks for any potential impact for you or your children, check out databreaches.net or haveibeenpwned.com. Data security advocates who run these websites shed light on breaches daily.
Shield Yourself from Pitfalls
IDShield has studied the issue of gamer tag theft and developed guidelines to protect your accounts. Theft of your gamer ID is a swift path to collecting all your earnings, purchases and scores. Hackers can also impersonate you with a stolen tag, thereby damaging your reputation in multiplayer games.
If you’re concerned about data breaches and want to ensure that your family data is not circulating on the dark web, check out our data monitoring services which scan for member details 24/7. A family identity theft protection plan can cover all dependents under 18 living with you and might be just what you need to keep your family more secure.
IDShield is a product of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. d/b/a LegalShield (“LegalShield”). LegalShield provides access to identity theft protection and restoration services. For complete terms, coverage, and conditions, please see an identity theft plan. All Licensed Private Investigators are licensed in the state of Oklahoma. This is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations.