Gamers be aware: Cyber-thieves are after your data
Here is something that most people take for granted: The personal data that they give digital companies.
“But wait”, you say - “They agree to the disclaimers, right?” Well, they do, without actually reading through it. Be honest: how many times have you actually read through a site’s account or subscriber agreement in detail? Ideally, everyone should read through these disclaimers and service agreements from start to end. However, the actual number of people who do this is probably a handful by comparison.
Gamers, in particular can occasionally be a bit carefree with regard to this. In fact, there are many important data vulnerability concerns that involve gamers and the gaming industry, as a whole. Some can even be so unmindful as to sharing their personal information through online conversations. Gamer data protection and theft have evolved from the 2000-2010s, which is why gamers should be aware of how to defend their data more effectively from now on.
Gamer Data Protection and Theft in the 2000s to 2010s
Gamer data was very lightly protected before the 2000s. This comes as no surprise as there was still a very small demographic of gamers that actually had the means and devices for online gaming. The internet may have started to get its groove in the 1990’s, but it was both expensive and still in its developing stages from what it would become a decade or more later.
The decade of the 2000s is when the online gaming industry truly took off, beginning with Ultima Online, Everquest, and World of Warcraft. One of the biggest players in the online gaming industry would be Sony. Sony would be responsible for many MMOs including the aforementioned Everquest (and its sequel Everquest 2), Star Wars Galaxies, DC Universe Online, and many others.
With such a large database of gamers and gamer information, it comes as no surprise that Sony would be targeted for data breach. And so it did occur in 2011, with the theft of 77 million user accounts! And the break-in was not even reported by Sony until days after the fact.
Another example of cyber-theft in the gaming industry, but in a different light, is what occurred with EVE Online. One of the biggest cyber-thefts in the history of online gaming happened just in 2017 with the equivalent of $20,000+ in the game EVE Online. The event has become infamous among the MMO community, almost as bad as the virtual “plague” that occurred in World of Warcraft. There were even threats of harm between those involved. While no actual legal actions were taken from either side, (the incident was actually an in-game betrayal) however it was still a form of theft that occurred that took advantage of players’ vulnerability to being manipulated from being overly trusting with people that they barely know in person.
What Can Gamers do to Protect Themselves?
The first point that gamers should look at for protecting their data is making sure they are aware of their rights. In this case, READ THE SERVICE AGREEMENT. Yes, it is boring. Yes, it is tedious. And yes, you cannot really change the fact that during a transaction you will be sharing personal data and information (names, email addresses, credit card or other financial information needed for payment processing). But it is there for a reason. Reading the service agreement lets you become aware of what the data you are sharing and what security protocols are in place to protect you under the company’s watch. Be aware what action you can take if things go wrong. Make sure there is adequate customer service in place.
Next: Be smart and be cautious - add a proverbial shield. “Friends” you may have in-game may actually be fraudsters, hackers, and snoops gathering information. So be doubly wary of sharing any personal information with them, including any account access. Think twice before you convince yourself that any potential loss is worth it. Never share your password. Remember, you payment information is probably linked to your account.
And finally, if you have a specific gaming PC, make sure that it is occasionally cleared of old data. Using a dedicated data wipe tool like RedKey USB to do a full data erasure procedure. RedKey USB is ideal for this kind of task because it works to completely eliminate any remaining data, including fragments that may remain after a simple reformat or factory reset.