Skip links

5 Online Gaming Tips to Stay Safe From Hackers

For some, vanquishing aliens, building virtual amusement parks, and online battles royale are an excellent stress reliever. As we all know, over the past year there’s been plenty of stress to relieve and more spare time on our hands in which to revel in our hobbies. There was a 30% jump in online gaming traffic from the first to the second quarter of 2020. 

Hackers are taking advantage of highly trafficked online gaming portals to make a profit on the dark web. The next time you log on to your virtual world of choice, consider these recent video game breaches and up your gamer security, which could include an antivirus for gaming.  

Recent Game Hacks

Between 2019 and 2020, web attacks on gaming companies rocketed up 340%, according to Akamai. Hackers have targeted several high-profile gaming companies recently with various motives. First, game source code was stolen from Electronic Arts to sell on the dark web. Developers shopping the dark web use stolen source codes to reverse-engineer popular games or copy the code into their own game. Capcom and CD Projekt Red were hit by ransomware attacks only a few months apart from each other, one attack focused on company financial information and the other on source code. 

“Titan Fall” and “Apex Legends” have both been hacked to the point where the former is unplayable, according to many gamers. To protest “Titanfall’s” developers’ inaction, gamers took to “Apex Legends,” altering in-game messages. The apparent ease with which hackers can walk into online gaming portals requires that game developers and gamers themselves pay more attention to their security. 

Online PC gaming allows players to use real-world money to purchase valuable upgrades to their characters. These characters receive admiration from some fellow players. Others feel greed. Advanced characters can fetch a lot of money on the dark web, so some cybercriminals practice credential stuffing to force their way into player accounts and steal ownership. Credential stuffing is a type of brute force attack where hackers take informed guesses at username and password combinations. A strong password or passphrase is essential to keeping your account and investment safe from a dark web fate. 

Why Are Video Games Hacked?

Based on the above recent hacks, it is clear that gaming companies host a trove of valuable information. Gamers trust these platforms with their payment information and with the safety of their gaming characters on which they spend thousands of hours and hundreds of dollars upgrading, making gaming a lucrative target for hackers. 

Another way cybercriminals target gamers is through malware disguised as an advantage. Cheat software for online games is common as players strive to be the best out of thousands. Advantage seekers for “Call of Duty: Warzone” were targeted by a malware scam. The malware creators advertised the “cheat software” on YouTube with instructions on how to download it. The video received thousands of views and hundreds of comments, which made it look legitimate. 

One of the steps in installing the “cheat software” was that users had to disable antivirus programs and firewalls. Users let the cybercriminals walk right into their device! From there, the device was infected by an aggressive type of fileless malware called a dropper. A dropper doesn’t download a malicious file onto the device; rather, it creates a direct pathway to deliver an additional payload, such as credential-stealing malware. 

Gamer Security Tips

Competitive gaming is, well, competitive. So, if you invest a lot of real money into your characters, be especially vigilant and follow these five important tips to protect your online accounts. 

  1. Do not reveal personal information 

It’s common for gamers to use variations of their real names and birthdates in their public-facing usernames. Don’t use your real name or birthdate in your username. Consider using a nickname or a combination of random numbers instead. Along this same vein, don’t reveal personal details about yourself (phone number, birthday, places you visit regularly) on chats or streams. Lurking cybercriminals can gather these personal details to impersonate you. 

  1. Edit your privacy settings  

On some online PC games, you can join campaigns with gamers from all over the world. While the interconnectivity is great, carefully vet who you allow to follow your online profile. If a stranger sends a friend request out of the blue, be on alert. They could have nefarious motives, such as phishing for valuable personal data. It’s best to customize your privacy settings to make your profile invisible to strangers.  

  1. Don’t pirate games or download cheat software

Developers spend a lot of time creating amazing games, so make sure you purchase games legally and play them as they are intended. Be especially wary of free downloads or pirated versions and cheat software, as they’re likely too good to be true. Instead, go for a challenge and have fun with the game as it’s written.  

  1. Log in with a VPN

virtual private network (VPN) scrambles your online data traffic, making it impossible for hackers to access your IP address and spy on your online browsing. 

  1. Sign up for gaming antivirus software 

Gaming antivirus software not only makes your online gaming experience more secure, but it can boost your rig’s performance! McAfee Gamer Security detects threats through the cloud and optimizes resources to minimize frame drops. 

Stay Updated

To stay updated on all things McAfee and on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, subscribe to our newsletter, listen to our podcast Hackable?, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.