Online gaming is the hottest new pastime that pits gamers against gamers in action-packed battles! Every day, millions of gaming sessions take place around the world, many of which are hosted live on the internet. New Internet technologies have made it possible for players to go out from their corner of the Earth to find worthy opponents who may not even speak the same language!
With so much activity on the Internet, there are bound to be problems. Surely enough, there are plenty of unruly characters lurking in the dark web, ready to take what’s yours. Is there a way to fight this hideous enemy? Yes, and you may find the answers to your burning questions here.
Create strong and unique passwords
The most important advice anyone can give you to ensure your online security is to strengthen your passwords. Passwords are the key to your accounts, so protecting them is your top priority. Any unruly character can take your password and access your accounts to do all sorts of nasty activities, including deleting the account itself! Passwords are the first line of defense in your network security measures, so you shouldn’t take them lightly.
What is a strong password? Good question! Here’s what you need to consider when creating a new password:
- It should be around 8-12 characters (longer is better)
- At least one lowercase letter is required
- At least one capital letter is required
- You need at least one number
- You need at least one symbol
- It must not include your name
- It should not include your email
As a general rule, you should always make your password as difficult to guess as possible.
Activate a firewall
As soon as your PC connects to the Internet, expect countless attacks. Tiny as they may seem, each attack has the potential to destroy your machine, or worse, steal your identity. Like the doors to your house, your machine has ports that act as doors to the heart of your computer. A firewall blocks these ports and any attacks that might attempt to pass through them. Moreover, it only allows safe programs to pass, allowing you to continue playing without interruption.
Use a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) is an essential part of your cyber defense campaign to keep your network safe while you game. This handy program prevents prying eyes from completely searching your data! Think of it this way: everything you do online requires an initiating part (you) and a receiving part (your game), but you’re shouting at each other from your rooftops, so everyone can listen in on your conversation! A VPN acts like a pipe that connects your bedroom windows, masking all communications passing through them. This way, only you and the intended recipient will ever know what was said.
Keep Antivirus Running
There are as many viruses in the online world as there are fish in the sea. Unfortunately, that means they can infect your machine at any time and from any direction! Even if you do everything in your power to protect your PC from harm, it can still be compromised, so you’ll need a way to fix it. An antivirus scans your computer and destroys any threats it finds. You can also leave it running while you use your computer to intercept any suspicious or invading files.
Scan with anti-malware
Malware is malicious software that enters your computer with the intention of harming it or its users. Common types of malware include viruses, spyware, worms, ransomware, and Trojan horses. Once inside your machine, the software can collect your data, delete files or even lock you out, preventing you from playing your favorite games! A malware scanner will go through every file on your system to find unwanted intruders and spray them where they are.
Do not reveal your identity
Yes, people can impersonate you, and not in your best interest. Cybercriminals usually find the opportunity to steal your identity to do nefarious acts such as opening a bank account, creating a credit card, or hacking into your social media account. These bad actors aim to extract as much money and resources from you as possible before disappearing into the dark web. When playing your video games, avoid mentioning anything that might help them find you on social media or, worse, your house!
Install secure browsers
Browsers are your gateway to the internet and what you need to use to interact online. Most browsers are not designed to protect you while browsing the Internet, which makes you an easy target for cyber crooks. You can increase your level of security by choosing a pre-installed browser with security features like HTTPS browsing, incognito mode, and cache clearing. Many are free, but a few require an active subscription.
Use HTTPS while surfing
You will notice that the URL of each website you visit will have the prefix:
This acronym stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and is the language used by computers to get you from one web page to another. Unfortunately, this form of communication broadcasts your information over the Internet as if someone were shouting your name into a megaphone. This means anyone can access your communications, even cyber hackers. Whenever possible, use the prefix:
The extra ‘s’ means secured, that is, it encrypts itself so that only the two communicating parties can easily understand the message. This prevents the majority of data theft, but you’ll need to combine it with the other steps mentioned in this article to create an adequate layer of protection for your machine and secure your network while you game.
Enable Do Not Track
In most browsers there is an option to enable the Do Not Track feature, which prevents most websites and tracking services from tracking you across the web. You can find this in the Security section of your browser’s settings, which can be activated with a single click of the mouse button. Although most legitimate websites and services will honor the request to deactivate their trackers, the most nefarious entities may ignore your wishes and track you anyway!
Use anti-tracking extensions
Every webpage you visit online has some sort of tracker that tracks you as you visit their site. Any action you take, from clicking a link to downloading an image, is recorded and sent to their analysts. Big companies are notorious for monitoring your every move and using the information to target you with scary ads or sell to hungry advertisers. You can stop many of these intrusive activities by installing anti-tracking extensions in your browser.
Kill strange processes
This method requires a little work but is worth the time it takes. Your machine allows programs to run processes in order to run their software. Likewise, intruders also need to run processes on your system for their malware to work. As an IT administrator, you can easily find these processes and stop them altogether. This handy app is called Task Manager on Windows machines and Activity Monitor on Macs.
Online gaming is a double-edged sword: you can compete online against opponents from all over the world, but it also leaves you vulnerable to unwanted hacking activity. It’s up to you to create a level of defense that can protect your gaming PC from damage and protect your identity. Use any of the tips above to make your gaming sessions much safer.
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