A techie’s life is all about enjoying the latest advancements in technology, while being safe and secure from the threats and risks of the outside world. But ‘fun’ in the tech world, is often considered to be all about being amused by things like video games. Of course, that couldn’t be further from the truth. But even if we were to believe it, video games are not all about having fun. Once out in the field, you’re exposed to a lot of threats. Yes, you’re definitely vulnerable to a “BOOM! Headshot!” (Non-gamers, Google it!), but there are some more issues you need to take care of. Let’s get this straight – games are not as secure as they used to be. Or perhaps there are some important things we have overlooked over the years. Whatever the case is, you should be aware of some important aspects…regardless of whether you’re playing Super Mario or Angry Birds or even Call of Duty (I personally prefer Angry Birds, though).
The video game industry has significantly evolved in the past couple of years, and so has the gamers’ league. But the real security risks are faced when it comes to online gaming. If you think computers are the only source of online gaming, think again. Internet connectivity in gaming consoles is not a new thing now. And we all know that the internet is not a small place. There are a lot of bad guys who want access your data. They want to harm you (and your computer) for no particular reason. Your task is to stay safe, while indulging in your favorite online games.
The conventional console
Let’s start with the obvious – gaming on a computer. There are a lot of things that can go wrong when you are playing games on a computer. Let’s take them all into consideration.
First, if you’re playing as a passing activity, you might interested in playing online games, or probably downloading small, flash-based games from the internet on your computer. That’s perfectly normal, as long as you don’t come across something suspicious. You see, downloading content from the Web could be a bit dangerous, especially if the source of that content is unverified. It is worth mentioning that you must always use an antivirus on your computer (even if you’re on a Mac; Macs are also vulnerable to viruses, but that’s a different story). When you have an antivirus, it detects any suspicious activity that might take place, or a foreign object that might be harmful to the computer. So don’t download games from a suspicious website. Also, always install and keep an updated anti-virus. It will definitely trigger a warning if a site is dodgy.
As far as playing games online is concerned, just do a Google search for ‘free online games’ and you’ll find billions of websites offering them. But not every website can be trusted. You can install browser extensions (such as Web-Of-Trust) that tell you the rating of the website you’re visiting. This is a helpful utility to have because some websites are infected, and often try to download viruses and to your computer. So avoid visiting a gaming website whose rating isn’t positive.
But still viruses and malware are not your only concern. Some gaming websites are actually phishing websites, which might ask you for registration, and to enter some personal information. Remember; never give out your personal information to a website, unless you have determined its credibility. It has come to be acceptable on social networks like Facebook and Google+, but definitely not on gaming websites. In case you have to buy a game online, be sure to double check the authenticity of the publisher before making a purchase or, more importantly, giving them your account details.
That being said, if you’re a hardcore gamer, chances are, you are already aware of these basic tips, and have a hardcore security plan in place. Hardcore gamers need to have their defenses up more than casual gamers because they often join online servers to play multiplayer online games. Some online servers might be infected, or even worse, their core purpose might be to distribute viruses and malware. So the safest thing to do is to join only those servers that you know have good reputation online.
The physical aspect
Gaming security is not only limited to technical issues; you should also consider the physical aspects. Taking care of your gaming device is also essential, and a part of video game security. Since most gaming consoles are handheld nowadays, the susceptibility of the console being lost or stolen is high. Keeping your gaming device in a safe place, away from the reach of intruders is usually recommended.