Over the course of last year, cyber attacks on gaming sites have gone up 167%, raising concerns over the emerging risks associated with gaming. While the number seems staggering, most people don’t know what exactly is at stake. On the surface level, there’s not much for the attackers to gain from targeting gaming sites, but the real picture is a bit more complex.
The primary concern that industry experts have voiced in the past is that the privacy policies of major game developers, which almost no one bothers to read in great detail, leave much room for data exploitation. Gaming is a huge industry, and gaming sites hold much information that can provide insights into the gamer’s personalities, likes and dislikes, contacts, and other data that would be highly valuable and profitable for threat groups. One of the most common ways hackers exploit this is identity theft.
It’s not just the data that users hand over intentionally that gets exploited. Gaming sites can also extract useful information through the user’s gaming achievements, for example, their personality type or intelligence levels. They can then use this data to market their products more effectively to different groups. While this may make some people uncomfortable, it’s nothing compared to what can happen if this data ends up in the wrong hands.
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What Data Do Gaming Sites Store?
As mentioned above, one of the most popular ways that attackers exploit data gathered by gaming sites is identity theft. Since the information held by these sites is quite comprehensive, a hacker can easily impersonate someone, which is why cybercriminals have been increasingly targeting the gaming industry.
But it turns out it’s not just cyber criminals that are to blame here. Tech Robot recently published a report that revealed that 90% of game developers track the gamers’ actions, and 78% store data on scores and performance to understand the players’ individual personalities. It was also revealed that 78% of game developers are willing to sell this data to third parties.
Another interesting and somewhat concerning piece of information from the study is that 89% of game developers monitor users’ private conversations and store that data. This means that if a gaming developer experiences a security breach, the attackers will also get access to the private messages of gamers.
How to Stay Safe While Gaming?
While the study raises more questions about the gaming industry, it seems that, for now, the responsibility for protecting personal data lies within the gamers themselves.
Getting a VPN is the most efficient way to ensure your safety while playing. VPNs conceal your IP address and make it impossible for hackers to trace any data they get back to you. For example, if you’re into Minecraft, you won’t have to open ports or expose your IP address. Instead, you can run private Minecraft VPN servers without compromising your data.
Needless to say, this applies to every game you play online, not just Minecraft.
Another tip for staying safe while playing is to pick strong passwords and pay more attention to what type of data you are handing over. In most cases, you can have an optimal gaming experience by just putting in the essential information and leaving everything else out. While you may be tempted to hand over that data for some minor advantages in the gaming experience, it’s not worth the risk in the end.
To conclude, there are more and more risks involved with playing online. However, we have all the tools to stay safe and protect our data from being misused. All we need to do is stay informed and develop good digital safety habits like the ones mentioned in this article.