Online Gaming Security is a topic that many might overlook. In his monthly security newsletter to staff, Jason Gay, Senior Director of IP/IT & Transport for OTELCO, offers some important information and tips for protecting yourself.
While I realize that the topic this month, online gaming security, pertains to the security of your home computer and network, I do think its important to continue to be aware of the risks and threats from all aspects of the Internet. It might surprise you that there are some very real consequences for letting your guard down in this area. Because gamers invest large amounts of time and money in todays sophisticated games, others see an opportunity for mischief or illicit profit. The technological and social risks of online games should be understood by anyone who enjoys them.
Online Gaming Security Risks
There are a lot of choices that exist in todays online gaming environment. Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games have emerged as a popular genre. Most allow players to create online identities as game characters who participate in virtual adventures, which sometimes cross into the real world. For example, gamers sell virtual game items for real-world money in markets such as Flipkart, Amazon etc. In some games, there is a user-created, virtual world where people use real money to create or purchase personal property in their online world. This has created an opportunity for a new type of criminal activity called virtual crime.
In general, online gaming may involve both social risks and technological risks. Thus, many online gaming risks are similar to those computer users may have already encountered, but they may not have realized that the games pose another opportunity for the compromise of their privacy or computer security.
Guidelines to Maximize Online Gaming Security
Create a family e-Mail address for signing up for online games.
Screenshots: If anything bad happens while playing online games, stop immediately and take a screenshot (using the print screen button on the keyboard) and report it using the screenshot as evidence.
Use antivirus and anti-spyware programs.
Be cautious about opening files attached to e-Mail messages or instant messages. Verify the authenticity and security of downloaded files and new software.
Configure your web browsers securely. Use a firewall.
Set up your user profile to include appropriate language and game content.
Set time limits for children.
Never download software and games from unknown websites.
Beware of clicking links, images and pop-ups in the websites as they may contain a virus and harm the computer.
Never give personal information over the Internet while downloading games.
Some free games may contain a virus, so be cautious and refer while downloading them.
Create and use strong passwords.
Patch and update your application software
Check out the OUCH Newsletter published by the SANS (SysAdmin, Audit, Network, and Security) Institute for more information.
Its not just children who are susceptible, CNET shares an interesting PEW Survey about adults and video-gaming.
Furthermore, the threat isnt limited to the home. Todays new corporate culture permits employees to BYOD (bring your own device) to stay connected with personal email, gaming, social media, etc (during lunch and breaks of course). Making sure that your guest network is secure might not be a bad idea.