The popularity of online gaming surged during the COVID-19 pandemic—and so did cyberattacks against gamers. If you’re the parent of a gamer, or if you’re a gamer yourself, it’s important to learn about the risks.

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Why are cyber threats to gamers on the rise?

It might seem strange that cybercriminals are targeting gamers. But there are some good reasons for this trend:

  • The global gaming market is booming—and is expected to reach $219 billion by 2024. Whenever that much money is floating around, bad actors will look for a way to take advantage.
  • The average cost of games is rising, making “cracked” or pirated games more of a temptation. Unfortunately, hackers realize this and use the lure of free games to infect people with malware.
  • A huge economy has developed within the gaming community: People buy and sell in-game objects, character modifications, and even accounts. This provides an incentive for hackers to steal and resell other people’s digital property.
  • Many gamers are unaware of the cybersecurity risks that they face. In addition, many younger people are involved in gaming. This means lots of easy targets for cybercriminals.

Top cyber threats in gaming

There are numerous cyber threats to gamers. But you’ll get the most benefit out of focusing on the following three:

  1. Malware. Malware threats to gamers are spread through malicious websites, exploited system vulnerabilities, or Trojanized copies of pirated games.
  1. Account takeovers. Bad actors are always on the lookout for easy-to-breach gaming accounts. Once stolen, they can resell an account or its contents to interested buyers.
  1. Phishing and social engineering. Gaming is now an online social activity. This gives scammers lots of opportunities to approach unwary gamers and try to trick them into downloading malware, giving up personal details, or handing over login credentials.

Cybersecurity tips for gamers

It’s scary to think that cybercriminals are attacking gamers with greater frequency. But the good news is that taking a few basic precautions can keep you safe:

  1. Protect your accounts. If you have a gaming account with Steam, Epic, or another large gaming platform, take steps to keep it safe just as you would a banking or social media account. Use a strong, unique password for every account that you have. If possible, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your gaming accounts as well.
  1. Avoid pirated games. We get it, games are expensive and times are tough. But hackers love to sneak malware into those “free” copies of popular games. As such, downloading a pirated game simply isn’t worth the risk.
  1. Watch for phishing and social engineering. As the saying goes, if you’re online, you’re a target. The best way to stay safe is to be aware of the threat—and learn how to spot phishing and social engineering attacks when you encounter them.

Following these basic cybersecurity tips will help to make your online gaming experience more secure.

For even more protection, explore Webroot’s SecureAnywhere Internet Security Plus antivirus solution. It will keep your system safe from all types of malware threats—and includes access to LastPass®, a reliable and easy-to-use password management tool.

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