Online gaming brings unlimited fun to game fanatic’s all around the world, but before you enter the worldwide network of online gaming chaos, beware of hidden risks that can harm your gaming system or your life (not your virtual one). From Club Penguin on your mother’s computer to zombie hunting in DayZ on your multi-thousand dollar computer setup, harmful viruses and online criminals are prevalent in every online world or server you enter.
Some of the most common online gaming risks include:
- Strangers who have the ability to trick one into sharing personal and financial information
- Intruders that can exploit security flaws within your system
- Online and real-world predators
- Countless numbers of viruses that trick vulnerable or new gamers into the “Trojan Horse Influenza”
- Server hacking (more-so annoying than dangerous)
- Players that are way too good, making “playing online” seem more like “running scared and dying online”.
*this doesn’t harm the well-being of your gaming system, instead it antagonizes you to possibly damage to your mouse, controller, television, living humans that are within striking distance, etc…
The last bullet point (sarcasm) doesn’t have to be added to your “Safely Gaming Online” handbook, but all of the other risks should cross your mind and be taken seriously. As you can see there are many things that can harm you or your system when playing online, and the risks I listed are just the most common; there are hundreds of more intricate methods used by criminals to obtain your personal information.
On the bright side, cautionary steps can be taken to increase your security, and I would highly recommend you practice them before your next appearance in the online gaming world.
- Use antivirus/antispyware programs (Norton, Symantec, McAfee, Barracuda)
- Use a firewall
- Keep your gaming applications updated and patched
- Create very strong passwords
- Beware of files that are linked in emails and other messages from unknown senders
- Safely store your personal and financial information
- Avoid answering personal or financial questions
- Your firewall will make exceptions for some games, where it allows information from the game to get into your computer. Avoid these if possible.
- Get really good at an online game (so you can avoid risk #6 above)
Once you have wrapped your gaming system and personal information with hypothetical bubble wrap, you’re ready to enter the wonderful world of online gaming with safety and peace of mind. Gaming will become even more enjoyable now that you don’t have to worry about sneaky viruses and people.
Now go away, follow the steps, and enjoy the online safety.