Industries that handle sensitive data, such as retail and banking, have long struggled with hacking and data breaches. In 2017, there were a total of 130 large-scale data breaches in the U.S., and that number is expected to grow by 27 percent each year.
These breaches occur despite higher levels of security for financial websites and databases. Due to the sensitive data these sites handle, they often implement features such as dual authentication and higher levels of encryption.
Unfortunately, the gaming industry is often overlooked when it comes to online hacking and security issues. In reality, the gaming industry is prone to security problems and many consumers are completely unaware of how much danger their data might be in.
In 2017, the gaming company R2Games was hacked, potentially exposing more than one million records which included IP addresses, Facebook details, email addresses, passwords, and usernames. Even worse, this may have been the third time the company, which owns more than a dozen mobile and browser-based games, was hacked.
Gaming platforms and forums represent a high level of risk, even though these accounts often do not provide direct access to sensitive data such as bank accounts, credit cards, or social security numbers.
There are two main reasons why the gaming industry presents such a high level of security risk.
#1 Lack of Website Security Features
Many games and gaming forums do not have a high level of website security. The companies that create games or forums may start on a shoestring budget and simply not put much thought into security because they deem it unnecessary.
Additionally, they may choose a website host that doesn’t put a high premium on security. Or, the gaming company may fail to implement very basic security features to protect the site from DDoS attacks, purchasing and installing an SSL certificate, or utilizing FTP.
Despite the efforts of the top hosting companies to roll out security updates and features to protect privacy, it’s ultimately up to the forum administrators to update software and maintain security on the forum. If security is not a high priority for them, then your data could be at risk.
#2 Password Reuse by Users
The largest security risk on gaming sites may actually come from the game users themselves.
Gaming accounts are often linked to bank accounts or credit cards, yet the main security risk is that most people reuse passwords across multiple sites. As a result, credentials for video game sites are used not only in attacks to penetrate the gaming accounts themselves but also in attacks on other sites.
For example, if you use the same login on your Xbox Live as you do for your email account (or even just a very similar one), hackers could use your login details to gain access to your email account, banking apps, and any other sites where you use the same or similar credentials.
In addition, many mobile games link to Facebook, which can provide hackers with a treasure trove of information including where you work, pet names, birthdays, and other information that is often used in passwords.
So, while it might not seem like a big deal if a hacker gains access to your account in a gaming forum, they could do far more harm than spend money on in-game upgrades.
How to Better Secure Your Information on Gaming Platforms and Forums
How do you protect yourself and your data from gaping holes in gaming platform security? There are three main steps you can take.
Use a Password Manager
The easiest way to ensure online security is to use completely unique passwords and usernames whenever possible. However, very few internet users do this. In fact, more than half of internet users reuse the same password across multiple sites.
A password manager can make it easier to access sites and save those unique, hard-to-guess passwords. You only have to remember one master password, and you are good to go. LastPass offers a free account for personal use on both mobile devices and desktop.
Use Two-Factor Authentication When It’s Offered
Two-factor authentication makes it more difficult for hackers to gain access to any of your accounts. Even if they guess the password, they will need access to your cell phone or another device to log in.
Two-factor authentication can keep your data safe and warn you if anyone is trying to hack in. When possible, activate this setting on gaming platforms and sites like Facebook, Amazon, or Google.
Check Your Privacy Settings
Gaming platforms and apps may share a shocking amount of information by default. For example, your location and name may be visible for anyone to see. Games connected to Facebook may show your friends list or other identifying information.
This information might not seem like a big deal. But each bit of information hackers can access gives them a better chance at hacking into your bank account, for example.
When possible, set your profiles to private and avoid adding people you do not know.
Games and gaming forums can represent a major security risk, but there are several steps you can take to safeguard your data. Ultimately, however, the responsibility lies with gaming companies and forum moderators. It is up to game players and forum members to put pressure on gaming sites to increase website security to keep everyone’s data safe.