Authored by a Symantec employee

 

Today’s gaming consoles are independent computers, but they are not yet at the stage where they are susceptible to malware in the same way PCs and other devices are. Even though the consoles are resistant to malware for the time being, there are still ways that cybercriminals will try to gain access to your valuable gaming accounts.

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In addition to phishing attempts on gaming accounts, online gameplay can be affected by hackers via Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. These attacks do not involve the users’ consoles directly; rather hackers intentionally flood the gaming company’s servers with network traffic, ultimately bringing the network to a halt.

How Are Consoles Vulnerable?

Cybercriminals are most interested in obtaining user account credentials, such as the username and password. By gaining access to the gaming account, cybercriminals can then steal the user’s in-game inventory and even steal the whole account.

Items that a player has collected during gameplay, such as weapons, virtual gold & silver and unlocked achievements have value and can be sold for real money on various underground gaming websites. Some games even offer purchases, which means there is also a chance that payment information such as a credit card can be attached to the account, therefore allowing the hacker to make unauthorized purchases of games and in-game items.

How Do Cybercriminals Gain Access to Gaming Accounts?

Generally, cybercriminals will use phishing attempts via email, social engineering and even in-game chat and messaging. Scammers can pose as someone from the gaming company, alerting you to an issue with your account, and will attempt to direct to you to a malicious website asking you to log in and attend to the issue.

Another common tactic is offering free points, giveaways and contests. In order to claim your “prize” phishers will lead you to a malicious website and request that you log in with your account credentials.

In addition to these tactics, sometimes account credentials can be leaked via a data breach, with the gaming company itself of associated third party partners.

How to Keep your Gaming Account Secure

  • Always use a secure password and change it often. About every 3 months.
  • Educate yourself about phishing scams and know what to be on the lookout for. Be wary of emails and messages from unknown senders and never download suspicious files or click on unknown links.
  • Be wary of online gaming forums, which is another area scammers like to frequent and try to trick users into divulging their account credentials.
  • Secure your home network. Everything is connected- your computer, your phone, your tablet, even some appliances such as TVs. Even though there is not malware directed at consoles just yet, there is malware that can access other devices on your network that may be able to obtain sensitive user information. Start with securing your Internet router. Make sure you have changed the default password on the device. Install a firewall program, or enable it on your router if there is one available. In addition to these safeguards, make sure that you have a comprehensive Internet security software suite such as Norton Security on your computer, phone and other devices connected to your network. This will help prevent malware from accessing your network. Remember- gaming companies will never contact you asking for your credentials, and if you believe there is an issue with your account, go directly to the game company’s website in a web browser rather than clicking on any links in the messages.
  • If the company has had a data breach involving user account credentials, try to log into your account immediately and change your password. If you cannot change your password, contact the gaming company directly.

While gaming consoles themselves are relatively safe from malware attacks, user accounts are still vulnerable. Using common sense and the tips mentioned in this article will help protect not only your personal information, it will also protect the precious time you have put into developing your character and gameplay achievements.

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