Most of us know how thrilling it feels to beat a game or triumph over competitors in an online arena. Gaming provides a getaway for many of us, whether that’s on the weekends or after school assignments. However, it’s important to take precautions to protect sensitive information while gaming. Here are 10 tips to keep your info safe while you game.
Carefully Choose Your Username
When selecting your username for game accounts or your game console, avoid including personal information that would make it easier for other users to identify you. This includes your full name, birthday, parts of your address, parts of your phone number, or even the city you live in. For instance, “QueenCityJake08” could provide cybercriminals with your name, an indication of the city you live in, and potentially the year in which you were born. A cybercriminal could search the web for additional information to try and connect-the-dots to access your account.
Create a Complex Password
Always use a complex password for your gaming accounts. This means using a mix of lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters to make it harder for cybercriminals to hack. CNET advises that strong passwords are at least eight characters long. So, instead of a password like “LucySmith123!”, create a password that is more complex and leaves out complete personal information such as this one: “LTh3sky.1stheLim1tY”. As a general rule, the easier it is for you to remember, the easier it is for someone else to crack.
Wifi Check: Change the Default Password
Don’t use the default password for your home internet connection. Hackers can easily find out what the default password is for your router and enter it in to get access to your home network. To change the default password for your router, check your manual’s instructions or the online guide for your router, and walk through the steps. Just like the password for your gaming accounts, you should also create a complex password for your home wifi.
Avoid Using an Actual Photo of Yourself
Consider using an avatar instead of a real photo of yourself to prevent others from easily identifying you. Cybercriminals may be able to use images of your actual appearance to find out more information about you online. Some games may provide avatars that you can readily use, or you may be able to upload one you’ve created.
Be Careful About What You Share
While you might feel comfortable with other gamers that you’ve played with for months or even years, you should still be careful with the information you put out there. For instance, withhold personal information in forums or messages about where you live, where you work, what school you go to, your birthday, and other details. You never know if someone will use those details against you. If you play with someone that you know personally and have met before, you can take sensitive information offline and talk over the phone or via text.
Call Out Cyberbullying
Sometimes people can take games too far and will attempt to hurt or manipulate others. If you feel that you are being cyberbullied, use the report function in the game to flag the behavior for a gaming administrator. If your child is the one gaming, there are a couple of things you can do to help. First, sit down and explain what cyberbullying is so that they’re aware of the behavior. You can also try playing a game with them or observing gameplay so you can see what’s going on. It’s important to remember that if you experience cyberbullying, the behavior should be addressed in a calm manner. Even if you’re not the target of the behavior, it’s still necessary to speak up to protect others and prevent cyberbullying from being normalized.
Cover Your Webcam When It’s Not in Use
If you have a webcam on your laptop or desktop monitor, always cover it while it’s not in use. Sometimes hackers are malicious and can use what they find through your webcam to your harm, such as looking to see what items you have in your home and planning a burglary. They may even record footage and post it across the internet elsewhere. Covering your webcam prevents these intrusions.
Use a Prepaid Card Instead of a Credit Card
For games that require a credit card to play or unlock additional features, consider using a prepaid card instead. With a prepaid card, you get to set the amount and reload it whenever you’re ready. In the event that the details for the prepaid card are compromised, you won’t have to worry as much since a limited amount of funds are available on the card. If you do have to use a credit card, don’t store your card information.
Beware of Phishing Scams
Some cybercriminals use phishing as a tactic to get your information. They may send an email or message to you and include a link that may prompt you to enter your account login credentials. In the event you receive an email that includes a link, be careful before you click through. Hover over the link to see where it will take you. If the link does not look legitimate, don’t click it. Also, pay attention to the wording in the email and look for typos and misspelled words.
Parents: Manage Features to Protect Your Kids
Last but not least, parents should consider using any parental controls made available through gaming platforms, mobile devices, and computers. Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch all have parental controls that allow parents to dictate aspects like how long a child spends playing a game, privacy settings, and even access gameplay reports. You can prevent your child from spending too much time playing games as well as conversing with strangers and accessing inappropriate content.
These tips will help you protect your information and keep gaming a fun, safe activity for you and your family.