Steve Wilson

Why it’s time for gamers to get serious about security?

Steve Wilson, UK and Ireland Director at NortonLifeLock explores the rise in cybersecurity threats in the gaming world as exponential growth in gamers opens the floodgates for cyber criminals.

In the UK today, there are 44 million gamers, out of a population of 65 million. In Europe, that figure is close to 351 million. Worldwide, it’s over 3.2 billion.

With gaming on the increase, from a cybercriminal’s perspective, this means access to a wider network of potential targets who are easily accessible online. According to eMarketer, the average gamer now spends almost ten hours a week gaming – with a significant number dedicating even more than that.

As a gamer myself, I was intrigued by the results of the 2021 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report: Special Release – Gaming & Cybercrime conducted by The Harris Poll among more than 700 UK adults who currently play online games. It reveals just how far some gamers will go to win – over a third of UK gamers (34%) surveyed say they would install cheats to gain an edge on their competitors, while 30% surveyed said they would pay to take possession of another user’s gaming account if they could.

To be fair, anyone who’s ever been destroyed by an invader in Dark Souls might empathise somewhat, having experienced this level of frustration. Using cheat software, for example, could be tempting, but it can lead to downloading trojanised software. There is a risk that malicious software could then lie undetected in the games’ directory, gathering personal information and banking details.

Yet if you’re at the point of considering installing dangerous software on your devices, you’re far from alone. Gamers surveyed admit to being willing to compromise the security of their data in favour of getting ahead of other gamers, with the recent Norton survey discovering that almost a third of gamers surveyed have uninstalled antivirus software (32%). This could be a risky move.

As both a gamer and someone working in the Cyber Safety industry, I know how important it is to be careful of the connections made online. It’s tempting to share some personal information on your profile, while streaming or when interacting directly through chat. However, playing with a wide network of people, could inadvertently be risky.

Over 2 in 5 UK gamers surveyed (42%) have experienced some form of attack to their gaming account. Even if the damage is confined to a gamer’s hardware, or their gaming accounts, the loss could still be significant. According to Statista, gamers worldwide spend more than £100 billion on their gaming.

That’s not only a massive financial investment, as any gamer will know there’s a real investment of effort and time and – if we’re honest with ourselves – emotion. So it’s not a huge surprise to discover that 71% of the UK gamers surveyed said they would be devasted or very upset if their gaming account was hacked.

Cybercriminals are very aware that cheats, mods, character weapon skins, and limited edition items are hugely tempting – attractive to every type of gamer, from hardcore gamers to occasional Friday night gamer. So, it’s worth being suspicious if someone offers you a cheat, as there’s a risk it could be a trojan horse and, for example, could result in your personal data ending up on the dark web.

Cybercriminals have been known to steal gaming profiles, commit fraud, withdraw money from a bank or e-wallet account, attached to the gaming accounts, and even take on a person’s identity to access multiple accounts.

It’s a steep price to pay to get ahead.

There’s also the threat posed to other people who are using the same devices or network, and the potential risk of hackers gaining ongoing access to devices and personal information.

There’s no better time for gamers to start taking security as seriously as they take frame rates. To do so gamers should:

  • Be cautious sharing personal or sensitive information when gaming Gaming communities offer a fantastic way to engage with people and make new connections, but don’t give away your birthday, location, or the names of your pets!
  • Raise your password game

A Password Manager makes it much easier to use different passwords across different accounts by offering complex passwords and taking away the headache of having to remember them. Two-factor authentication is now a must, adding an added layer of security.

  • Take proactive steps to help safeguard gaming accounts and devices from cyberthreats

Norton 360 for Gamers offers advanced protection features specifically designed to address gamers’ unique security needs without interfering with gameplay. This includes a Game Optimiser feature to help maximise game performance for a more immersive gameplay experience. Meanwhile its Dark Web Monitoring feature scans for gamer tags, usernames and other personal information on the dark web and alerts you in the event of your personal data being found on the dark web.

Gaming can provide a great outlet, as all gamers will know, so don’t compromise your device security to get ahead. Put the focus on the joy of gaming.

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