spons29nov2 23 Scammers vs. Gamers: How Not to Lose This Battle? 

Scammers vs. Gamers: How Not to Lose This Battle? 

Online gaming is one of the most popular pastimes in the world, and for good reason. With just the click of a button, you can play a nearly endless number of titles across any genre or platform imaginable.

There’s just so much choice when it comes to your gaming session. Unfortunately, one thing that isn’t a choice is protecting yourself from a cyberattack.

This is because criminals and scammers are turning their attention to the virtual world to spread dangerous malware, steal accounts, or gain the upper hand in a competitive match. It can take the fun out of playing online.

So, how do you level the playing field and ensure you’re kept safe? This article will explore the growing threat that scammers pose to the gaming industry. You’ll learn the biggest risks to your account security and the best ways of protecting yourself online and offline.

Why gamers are at risk of cyberattacks 

Gaming is one of the biggest industries worldwide, with experts estimating it to be worth over $312 billion by 2027. With this value alone, it’s unsurprising that cybercriminals see the industry as a virtual goldmine. Unfortunately, improper gaming habits can make a hacker’s job easier.

Below are five key areas where gamers may be most at risk from scammers:

  1. Downloading malware

Malware is malicious software designed to exploit or harm PCs and devices. It’s becoming a serious threat in gaming as hackers disguise new infections as legitimate games, add-ons, mods, and plugins.

When a gamer downloads an infected file, the malware may lead to password theft or a massive reduction in their PC’s performance. What’s more, malware can expose your system to more infections. It can also lead to an increase in intrusive ads and malicious browser redirections.

Late in 2023, malware was detected in one of the most popular mods for Slay the Spire. Once downloaded, the mod attempted to steal user passwords for games and across browsers and messaging services like Discord.

Where possible, gamers should only download games from legitimate marketplaces. They often have higher quality controls to catch infections. Even if one is detected, they can quickly communicate the problem to users.

You should avoid sites offering free games or premium add-ons. These are usually ploys used to deceive you into downloading infected files.

When installing unofficial mods and add-ons, there will always be some element of risk. To avoid disaster, you should always scan downloaded files for viruses using antivirus software. Keep the base game updated with the latest patches, and enable multi-factor authentication on your account to prevent unauthorized access.

  1. Falling for phishing attacks

Phishing has become one of the most common cyberattacks worldwide, where a hacker impersonates a legitimate entity to gain sensitive information from users.

In gaming, phishing attacks can take many forms. However, the most common are scammers impersonating customer support. They message you about free content and credits, then redirect you to ‘fake’ websites to scrape your login information.

In 2023, scammers uploaded’ poison PDFs’ to vulnerable websites, tricking users into thinking that once clicked, they would receive free Fortnite and Roblox skins. However, unbeknownst to gamers, you would be redirected to a fraudulent website to steal your login information.

Gamers should be wary of emails and messages from unknown senders offering free gifts and rewards. Moreover, customer support will never ask you to share sensitive information in emails to help your account.

  1. Harassment

Another worrying part of gaming online is the threat of harassment and cyberbullying. More and more scammers are using personal information to attack gamers online and offline and intimate them. Two of the most severe forms of harassment include:

  • Swatting: This is when scammers prank call emergency services, such as police, ambulances, or fire brigades, to a person’s address to get them into trouble or frighten them.
  • Doxing: This is when a scammer leaks highly private information online, including someone’s real name, home or work address, phone number, and more, to intimidate or harm them.

Other forms of cyber harassment can include game sabotaging, where scammers join a person’s lobby to purposefully troll them, sending harassing messages in-game, and cyberstalking.

Gamers can protect themselves from this cyberattack by limiting the information they share online. This includes using aliases as usernames and avoiding posting identifiable information, photos, videos, and more on linked accounts.

Additionally, you should use security features to bolster your privacy. For example, if you play browser-based games, learning how to change your location in Chrome can help you avoid revealing personal information about your whereabouts. You should also familiarize yourself with a game’s block features to limit contact with suspicious accounts.

  1. DDoS attacks

A distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) is when a hacker floods servers with false requests, overwhelming the network. This can cause significant game delays or bring down the server entirely.

There are many reasons why they might do this, including to gain a competitive edge in online gaming by slowing down their competition or by causing massive disruption to entire gaming communities.

The danger with DDoS attacks is that if scammers discover your IP address, they can isolate their attack directly at you. You can be booted off the game, and your internet speed or PC performance may be dramatically reduced.

If you suspect a DDoS attack, shut down your device and disconnect from the internet. Resetting your router will give you a new IP address a hacker won’t access. You should also avoid third-party servers, which may typically reveal information about your IP address to other players.

  1. Account & identity theft

Accounts are essential to gaming, containing everything from progress and achievements to in-game currencies. Scammers will often try to steal or seize control of an account to hold it for ransom or impersonate a player and target their friend lists.

In 2022, scammers seized control of several high-profile FIFA players after impersonating account holders to EA’s customer support, requesting a reset in login information. Once they gained access, scammers emptied the account of all its in-game currencies, causing massive disruption.

Gamers should activate multi-factor authentication on their accounts. This will add another layer of protection to logins, as scammers will need access to additional verification to cause any harm. Gamers should also regularly review financial statements for any irregularities with in-game spending.