The popularity of online gaming has risen to astronomical levels in recent years. Thanks in part to record levels of growth experienced in the last year, there are an estimated 1 billion online gamers worldwide. This is expected to grow, with online gaming audiences projected to hit the 1.3 billion mark by 2025!
This is very much a positive trend. The events of the last year have taught us that online gaming provides an excellent way to keep in contact with old friends or make new ones.
The online gaming world is an inherently social space where it is easy to build up a sense of community. Online games also bring other benefits, such as building concentration levels and memory and problem-solving skills.
However, with so many benefits, it is easy to forget the risks associated with online games. With more new players trying out online games for the first time, this is fertile ground for those looking to take advantage of these risks.
Playing online games doesn’t have to be risky though. With a few simple strategies and precautionary steps, you can keep yourself secure. With that said, let’s look at some of the steps you can take to keep yourself safe online.
Be careful with financial information
Although it is always important to keep personal information safe online, this is particularly true for personal financial information.
The consequences of someone gaining access to personal financial information such as credit card details can be severe, with billions of dollars lost each year to identity theft.
Given these risks, specific industries have brought in extra measures to ensure that this information is kept as secure as possible. Online casinos, for example, are industry leaders in this area, given how much financial information they process each year.
So, if you want to keep that sweet online casino bonus you scored safe, make sure that you only play with online casinos that have these security features in place.
Common things to look out for include a HTTPS website rather than a HTTP one, other verifying information such as verified by Visa or Mastercard, and whether they have encryption protection.
Don’t be afraid to block and report
As many online games now have communication channels built into them as standard – whether through a voice chat feature or a text chat box – this creates the opportunity for ill-minded individuals to engage in unacceptable forms of contact with other players.
This problem impacts both adults and younger players, though children and teens should be cautious.
If you have a bad experience using online chat features in games, such as abusive or inappropriate language, you should never hesitate to use the ‘block’ or ‘report’ feature.
This essentially lets the online games provider know that it needs to prevent the reported player from interacting with you and will keep you safe going forward. It also flags their account and puts them on a watchlist for future bad behaviour.
If you are a parent setting up an online gaming account for your child and want to avoid the risks of online chat, turn this feature off in the settings. This will pre-emptively protect your child from unwanted or abusive contact and give you peace of mind.
You can also combine this with a ‘whitelist’ of acceptable players if you want to ensure that they can only contact friends or people they know personally.
Be wary of oversharing
Although online gaming can be a great way of meeting new friends and developing relationships, you should nevertheless be wary about giving away too much information.
Most of the time, your identity will be represented by an online username, avatar, or some other kind of digital identity. However, when selecting what you want your online identity to be, you should be careful not to reveal too much personal information.
Try to keep your username as anonymous as possible. Otherwise, ill-minded individuals might be able to use this to either find you in person or to find other places you frequent online. For young players, this can be particularly risky.
With that said, always try to keep your username anonymous and avoid including real-life photos in your profile to lessen the chances that your identity can be discovered or that it will be used for identity fraud.
The need to keep things as anonymous as possible also extends to your interactions with other players. Although it can often be easy to strike up friendships online, you should be careful not to share too much, too soon.
As our true identities are hidden behind a digital one, you can never be entirely sure who you are interacting with. As such, you should avoid sharing any sensitive personal information with someone you do not know the identity of.
Even sharing the name of a loved one, pet or childhood home can be combined with other information such as your email and username to commit identity fraud.
Do regular security check-ups
One of the best things you can get into the habit of doing when it comes to staying safe online is to do regular security check-ups.
Regularly changing your passwords is one example of this, but it might also include other steps, such as ensuring that you have two-factor authentication turned on wherever possible.
A security check-up should also extend to keeping your devices safe. If you are using a desktop PC or laptop, be sure to run regular spyware and malware checks, in addition to updating any software you are using.
It might also involve setting up a proxy service to keep yourself anonymous.
Security breaches typically happen when you let your guard down or get complacent, so conducting regular security check-ups will help to keep you vigilant.