Online gaming is an avenue to learn new games, socially interact and spend time in doing something more fun. The number has further increased due to stay at home situation during the current lockdown situation due to COVID 19. The number of online gamers in India during the lockdown has increased by 12 percent, as per the reports by All India Gaming Federation (AIGF).
This experience however comes with its fair share of security hiccups, making one more attentive in using this platform. Around 35.92 percent of the total DDoS attacks was witnessed by the gaming industry in 2019!
The statistics become even grim for women players where around thirty percent of women have filed complaints related to verbal abuse and inappropriate messaging. It’s high time that the global gaming market takes this seriously and ensures secure games and safe gaming experience for online gamers.
Gamers Vs Hackers: Common Online Threats for Gamers
The gaming market is a lucrative business where the number of online gamers is on the rise. Gaming industry recently generated a revenue of approx. 130 billion dollars worldwide. This however does not make it immune from cyber threats that threaten to undermine the working of the entire video game industry. Most of the common cyber threats for online gamers are:
Phishing links are usually in the form of email or text messages that request online gamers to validate bank accounts and change passwords. Phishing activities involve hacking a gamer's bank details, account numbers, passwords and other sensitive information for reselling it in black market. A popular online game (Steam) faced the phishing attack through a fake game screen saver aside from fake games.
Malware and malicious spyware are installed through requests that popup on your gaming screen for installing updates or any other key information. It happened with FIFA 16 where players were fooled through a Media fire download link to install coin miner.
Trolls & Bullying
Paid or free games websites witness all kinds of gamers on an everyday basis. While chatting during gaming is normal, what is not normal is when such chats become personal and insulting. Bullying, humiliating, using abusive emojis, etc. are some of its examples.
Hackers mostly target gamers who have paid for video games software. Password and credit card details stealing, malware, scamming are the main tactics used by online criminals to hijack your identity. It is for this reason that the cloud gaming market request users to create stronger passwords and undergo two-factor authentications.
A strong internet suite is advised because stealers indulge in compromising the security of your device through promises of quick updates, tools to enhance gaming experience, etc. A device is often connected to botnets and mines Bitcoin for stealing identity/data. Teslacrypt is one good example of device compromise, as it was created for encrypting online gamers’ information on their device and hoaxing them to pay money for decrypting these files.
Password is stolen through malicious codes that completely block your access to the game. This happened recently with a very popular online game (Steam) where players were asked to submit personal and banking details to continue playing the game.
This trend may sound new, but it is not actually. Similar to phishing, here also hackers make an attempt at compromising your account by providing fake offers. The compromise is usually made by identifying an error in coding that may exist in the server to rob players who may not be tech savvy or new to online games. Then there are also attempts of luring gamers with offers such as a foreign trip, lottery money and even free gifts.
Mal advertising is done through fake apps to launch an attack on gaming devices. Android Trojan is a popular case of mal advertising. Trojan would display ads on games that it had duplicated from the original ones. Once this adware enters into a computer system, it slows down the processing units to such an extent that several rebooting attempts also fail to rectify the error. The information that this adware collects from a system is often sold to third parties.
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How Gaming Industry Can Ensure Security Controls
Gaming market needs to ensure security, confidentiality and integrity of its games to offer a more secured user experience. Most of the biggest gaming companies deploy the following measures for a safe gaming experience:
- Adopting Better Security Features
Gaming industry should adopt better security measures for enriching user experience. Cyclical software update, online key validation, encrypted memory/storage and secured booting are immediate steps for boosting security of online and global gaming arena.
- Preventing Software Vulnerabilities
TPM (trusted platform modules) are efficient ways for ensuring that video games software is not vulnerable to attacks. TPM helps in storing crypto keys that identify both vendor's public key and an individual device.
- Maintain Confidentiality of Databases
Gaming industry follows certain guidelines for maintaining the confidentiality of database. Some such measures are managing data access, safe disposal of records/data, management of data acquisition/ utilisation and lastly encryption of the files.
- Prevent In-Game Phishing
Phishing is quite a threat to security. It can however be prevented through use of spam filters, latest security patches, web filters and encryption of company's sensitive information.
How Gamers Can Combat Security Threats for Uninterrupted Gaming Experience
Gaming industry is a huge market for online gamers. Security risks and information challenges are the major risks that it suffers from. As a gamer, you can combat security issues by keeping the following measures in mind:
- Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi factor authentication makes sure that even if your password is lost, another authentication step can be taken to retrieve account. Remember, Indian video games companies or non-Indian ones, none of these ever ask for password details from its online gamers.
- Changing Passwords Regularly
Strong password, which is also changed regularly is the key to protecting the gaming account. Cloud gaming market has in today's times made the entire password changing experience hassle free by linking the gaming device with multiple communication channels such as mobile phone number and email addresses.
- Phishing Awareness & Prevention
As a gamer, it is important that you be aware of what kinds of messages and attachments fall under the phishing categories. Requests demanding browser updates, account details, passwords and personal details are all phishing attempts by hackers. Half the battle is already won if you are aware of how phishing scams are being used. As a precautionary measure use only updated versions of online games, as they do away with the security lags that were present in the previous versions.
- Malware Protection
Identify if there are any recent changes in your mobile device such as quick draining of battery, slow performance or heating issues even when the device isn't in use. It might be a case of malware. Be careful of such malware signs and immediately reconfigure or reformat your device. to remove suspicious spyware or malware.
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- Installing Antivirus on Their Device
Antivirus solutions are critical tools for online gamers to enjoy their popular games while they are homebound or free to move around. End users should avoid requests from senders that ask for disabling the antivirus to avail lucrative offers. In fact, to maximise the efficiency of antivirus software, biggest gaming companies have built specific network security features for online games.
List of the Best 20 Antivirus Software & Apps for 2020
- Avast Mobile Security - Free
- Bitdefender Total Security - Free
- AVG - Free
- Kaspersky - Free
- Microsoft Windows Defender - Free
- Norton Security and Antivirus
- Aviras Antivirus Security
- Symantec Endpoint Protection 14
- Panda Dome
- BullGuard Antivirus
- ESET Endpoint Security
- Total Defense Antivirus
- F-Secure SAFE
- Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security
- Cylance Smart Antivirus
- Emsisoft Anti Malware
- Sophos Home
- Adaware Antivirus Free
Disclosure and cyberattacks are key security issues being faced by gaming industry. However, the video game development stage today has reached a point where cyber security is the prime concern for all including Indian video games companies. The cloud gaming market is working hard to ensure a reliable user experience and network security.