Xbox gamers are 86% more likely to get hacked, but the truth is that cybercriminals target players of all consoles, ages, and backgrounds.
Whether you play with close friends or fellow gamers from across the world, this article will cover the main five cyber threats you should look out for, as well as tips to help you stay safe while playing online.
1. Social Engineering and Credential Stuffing
From login information to personal data, such as your bank details, address, and ID numbers, criminals can extract a wealth of information through social engineering.
To achieve this, hackers may send out malicious emails that appear to be from a gaming platform or similar source. But, the email contains a link to a website that collects any information you input. This is what social engineering is all about.
Now, most gamers recycle usernames and passwords. But if criminals get a hold of this information, this opens up the other part of this malicious combo–credential stuffing.
Credential stuffing is when hackers sell usernames and passwords to other cybercriminals who use these details to break into all of your accounts.
This results in the loss of in-game assets like characters and power-ups and security breaches in your other accounts like your bank or email.
2. Hacking Attacks
Did you know that 21% of gamers have been hacked in the last 12 months? That means there’s a 1 in 5 chance you may be successfully targeted by a hacker in the next year.
Hackers use a wide range of techniques to gain access to your account, including exploits in the code and social engineering, or they may even purchase your login details on the dark web.
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3. Data Breaches
Data breaches are pretty much outside of your control. Besides securing your credentials so that hackers can’t access the game’s network through your account, there isn’t much you can do.
This is what makes it such a scary challenge.
There are many ways that gaming servers can be hacked or compromised, but let’s take some of the most famous attacks:
- Activision Blizzard: in late 2022, hackers didn’t obtain user data but instead targeted the code in some of the company’s games and auctioned it off for millions on the dark web;
- Nintendo: in 2020, Nintendo was targeted after a hacker gained access to the company’s network through a compromised account and stole data from 300,00 users;
- EA: the creator of hit games like Madden and NBA Live was attacked in 2021 and refused to pay the ransom, so the source code for its FIFA 2021 game was sold online.
Bots are automated scripts or simple computer programs that can repeat certain tasks.
4. Fraud Through Bad Bots
Although they were originally designed for good, criminals have devised different ways of employing bots to identify and exploit security weaknesses.
An example of this is an account takeover attack, where cybercriminals can gain access to your credentials.
Then, these criminals use bots to conduct automated assaults that can include the extraction of in-game assets, virtual or real-world currencies, and other login credentials.
5. Viruses and Other Forms of Malware
Gaming consoles are vulnerable to malware attacks like viruses, just like computers. Although both of them are targeted by different types of malware, the end goal is usually the same: steal data and obtain funds in any way possible.
It’s important to note that malware attacks are executed by malicious platforms, which are usually inserted into your account or system externally.
So, make sure to decline suspicious friend requests from unknown people that try to share images or other types of content with you.
Hacker Gangs that Target Gamers
Hacker gangs are real, and many of them focus on targeting a specific type of platform. Here are some of the most famous groups that target gaming platforms.
- Roasted 0ktapus: an active hacker gang that targets gaming companies;
- Lizard Squad: a hacker squad believed to be inactive that appeared to be disbanded then resurfaced a few years later but has since gone dark;
- Xbox Underground: one of the most notorious hacker groups in the world, this criminal organization is known for targeting game developers, including Microsoft.
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AI in Gaming: Is This a Threat in 2023?
Game developers are already using AI to generate characters, develop plots, and power the behavior of non-player in-game entities.
However, the use of AI has also raised concerns, especially in platforms that collect user information and feed it directly to their AI engines.
To be clear, the biggest problem with using AI in game development is that this technology can be hacked, or the information collected could be otherwise misused, which poses a challenge that developers and the rest of the industry stakeholders must address.
How to Protect Yourself Against Hackers and Other Threats
It doesn’t matter the level; all of us gamers need to take precautions when playing online. Some of the steps you can take to protect yourself include:
- Don’t Share Any Identifiable Information with Anyone: the first and most effective method to avoid information theft and similar cybercrimes is to avoid sharing identifiable information with anyone;
- Turn Up the Privacy and Security: Likewise, you need to change the privacy settings on all gaming platforms to minimize the amount of data shared, and also consider adopting a VPN like NordVPN or Surfshark to encrypt your connection when you game on mobile and PC;
- Block, Report, and Mute Aggressive Individuals: besides harassment, aggressive individuals may also attempt to extort and otherwise take advantage of gamers, so make sure to block, report, and mute anyone that fits this description.
Cyberattacks are becoming more and more common across different industries, and the gaming sector is no exception.
Today, gamers need to look out for hackers that extract information to then stuff credentials online, identity theft, data breaches, chatbot fraud, and countless malware threats.
What’s more, some hacker gangs only focus on games because these platforms are easier to breach than financial institutions and similar entities. And the addition of technology like AI may actually give hackers a bigger attack surface.
Because of all this, gamers need to proactively take steps to improve security while playing online.