Last Updated: January 09, 2020.
If you’ve played more games this year than in any previous year, well, you’re certainly not alone. The COVID-19 mess is still pushing people to remain in their homes most of the time (even when they’re working), limiting their leisure options.
Consider the heavy loss of conventional social interaction and the broad elimination of commuting: free time is plentiful and hard to fill.
When you’re playing online games, you’re supposed to be having a good time: exploring virtual environments, mastering gameplay mechanics, taking risks, and learning from losses so you can achieve satisfying victories.
The idea is to get away from the stresses and worries of everyday life, playing in worlds that operate with consistent rules and comprehensive rules.
That isn’t an inevitability, though, as concerns can intrude upon your gaming experience. One concern that cautious people can develop — and struggle to dismiss — is that of online security. We all know that it’s important to be careful on the internet, and playing games for entertainment doesn’t automatically protect you from security issues.
The question, then, is whether you should be concerned about security matters when playing online games. Is there reason to be worried and take precautions, or can you just sit back and trust in the stability of the systems you’re using? Let’s consider it.
All the Best Gaming Services Use Encryption
Protecting private data is essential when there’s money on the line, as is the case in the world of online card games (and games of chance, of course). Per Online Casinos, a site that offers a detailed analysis of gambling services, safe online casinos ensure security through the use of strong encryption systems, keeping player investments fully protected.
But what about conventional gaming services? Well, streaming services like Google Stadia or PlayStation Now are tightly controlled by their massive developers, with multi-factor authentication (and, yes, encryption) used to prevent authorized access — and game console stores are similarly protected. One massive advantage of running things in the cloud is that local user-specific security isn’t a significant concern.
Specific Servers Can be Left Vulnerable
Now all service-based offerings are safeguarded, though. One area where there can be security issues is game servers: first-time developers, in particular, can use weakly-secured servers, allowing hackers to intrude and cheat in various ways. This can ruin game experiences and cause no end of lingering frustration, but it can’t do much more than that.
The big dangers only come in when companies store private data (particularly payment data) on servers that aren’t fully protected. This isn’t generally a problem, though: consoles use set stores from the developers, and PC game services only get much support when they’re trusted by huge brands (requiring them to be suitably secure).
Steam and the Epic Games Store, for instance, don’t offer any reasons to be worried (there has been mention of the latter scraping data from the former, but it’s yet to develop into a clear problem for customers).
Social Engineering is the One Notable Concern
If all these gaming services are so tightly-secured, then can’t you proceed with absolute confidence? Well, it isn’t quite that simple, because there’s another way in which online gaming services can be used for fraud: they can be used as channels for deploying social engineering tactics (in other words, finding ways to trick people into giving up their details).
Many players let their guards down when they play games because they just want to relax — and they often want to make friends in online worlds (especially since it’s hard to make friends in the real world these days).
Unscrupulous individuals can take advantage of this to befriend people purely so they can exploit their goodwill.
If you’ve ever read a news piece about someone being catfished by someone who made up a story about needing money for medical bills, you’ll have an inkling of what can happen. Players — particularly young players — can be talked into giving up their user account details, exposing their bank account information, and even going to real-world meetups under false pretenses (where they can be robbed, blackmailed, or otherwise exploited).
Wrapping up, then, should you be concerned about security when you play online games? Yes, you should — just not the technological security of the services and platforms.
Instead, you should be cautious about where you share your personal details, and think very critically about the circumstances if anyone ever makes an odd request of you.
Provided you remember to protect your general anonymity and watch out for fraud attempts, you should be able to enjoy online gaming without worrying about your data being stolen.