Cyber threats against gamers have grown enormously over the past few years yet many gamers think their data is of little value and as such they won’t be hacked. But gaming accounts hold valuable nuggets of data for hackers who can sell it on the dark web, and identity thieves who can exploit it for financial gain.

Why are gamers targeted?
  • A typical gaming account can include the gamer’s name, date of birth, address, email, mobile number, payment information, and other personal information that.
  • If a gaming account has been breached, the gamer’s other accounts, whether banking or social media, are at a much higher risk for account takeovers and fraud.
  • By combining hacked account details with other personally identifiable information a potent mix is created which can have potentially seriously damaging financial consequences.
  • Gamer tags, that gamer’s in-game identity, can also be exploited to gain virtual items, such as high-end guns, or limited edition gaming items and in-game currency. These can be traded on the dark web.
How are gamers exploited?

From July 2018 through June 2020 Akamai, a content delivery network and cloud services provider, detected 10 billion credential stuffing attacks aimed at the gaming sector. That’s approximately a staggering 13 million attacks every single day.
  • With credential stuffing attacks cybercriminals often use credentials from old data breaches to try and compromise new accounts that may reuse existing username and password combinations.
  • Cyber miscreants know only too well that people tend to use the same credentials across different sites and services and they buy lists of these compromised credentials from the dark web.
  • Gamers are also targeted by phishing campaigns. Attackers develop malicious but convincing emails and websites related to a game or gaming platforms. These attacks try to trick gamers into revealing their login credentials.
Hacker traps
  • Game related chat rooms are a go-to source for gamers keen to learn about gaming tips and tricks. However, sometimes attackers either set up a chat room, or infiltrate an existing one, and build up trust among other users by offering insights into gaming mods and new skills.
  • Once trust has been built they will share a link, which is malicious, claiming that it takes a gamer through to a ‘useful’ site that provides amazing tips. In reality the link goes to a web page or site that is designed to harvest ID credentials.
Protection, simple steps, greater awareness
  • The first step for self-protection is for gamers to recognise and acknowledge that they are targets. They need to be realistic and move beyond the default position in which they think it won’t happen to them. It will and if they need proof 13 million attacks a day aimed at the gaming sector should be sufficient.
  • Don’t give out your personal details. Never share anything with gamers you may play with regularly but don’t know in real life. This includes the area in which you live, your address, you real name and so on.
  • Whether you use a console, mobile device or PC you can still be at risk. Your gamer tag is tied to your account, which in turn is linked to your account details. Think like a cyber villain, your gamer tag can lead to your account information which can lead to potential financial fraud and identity theft.
  • Be extremely wary of people, sites, emails, chat rooms and links that promise free or cheap skins, gaming mods, game hacks, game currencies and other sought after items.
The final frontier

What gaming conditions does every gamer aspire to? It’s lightning fast gaming, with no game lag, jitter or bugs. These are essential conditions for good gaming. But there is a perception among gamers that cyber security is heavy on system resources and slows gaming down.

Add this to the fact that many gamers don’t think they will be targeted, and it’s almost inevitable that cyber security doesn’t feature high on a list of priorities. As such it’s easy to understand why gamers are such a popular target for cyber villains.

BullGuard is doing something about this with its patented Game Booster, which allows gamers to continue gaming at peak performance rates while still protecting them online.

A feature in BullGuard Antivirus, Internet Security and Premium Protection, Game Booster:
  • Recognises when a game is active and automatically isolates all other apps on one or two CPU cores, ensuring other CPU cores are fully dedicated to the gaming app, enabling gameplay without lag.
  • Tests have shown that Game Booster enables even faster FPS than computers not running antivirus protection
  • Compatible with anti-cheat engines improving support for major online games.
  • Supports broadcasting during game play for uninterrupted video performance when gamers are capturing their games.