In today’s blog, we continue with our theme of doing a deeper dive into those topics that will be buzzing hot into 2021, and of course, will be at the top of the list for Cyberattacks.  In last weekend’s blogs, we touched upon two hot button issues.  In this one, we look at something entirely different, ang heck, I never even imagined that it could a pose a Cyber Risk.  At least the thought did not cross my mind until now.

So what is this subject you might be asking? Well, it has to do with the gaming industry, and those people that buy the products and make extensive use of it.  When thinks of a typical gamer, the “nerd” stereotype very often comes into mind.  This include those people that are in high school or college and are very often introverted and reclusive in nature.  But in the end, really anybody can be a gamer. 

I for one am not, and the closest I have ever come to it was playing chess on Yahoo with a friend of mine.  So why is gaming such a Cyber Risk right now?  Well, think of the venue upon which these software packages are played upon.  They are either TVs, computers, or wireless devices.  With this interconnectivity, any type or kind malicious payload can be deployed onto them.

Also keep in mind, that with the advent with the Internet of Things (IoT), the level of interconnectivity between these devices is only going to proliferate at a much greater clip, thus posing even bigger security risks to be had.  So long story short, if you are a hard duty gamer, here are some key Cyber tips that you will want to keep in mind as you make your way into 2021:

*Do not ever share or disclose your personal information:

Although this is a huge given, this mantra goes out to the young folks out there, especially the teenage crowd.  Although the gaming vendor could very well ask this from you, don’t ever give out.  And if you do decide to give out, always let your parents know, just to be on the safe side. 

*Make sure that your home-based network is up to snuff:

With this, make sure that your network is protected by robust passwords, that are deemed too difficult to break on the first hacking attempt.  In this regard, you may way to consider using a Password Manager, which can help you to create these kinds of passwords, reset them, and even alert you in case there is any malicious activity that occurs on them.  Also, make sure that you keep your home router updated with the latest software patches and upgrades, which also includes firmware.  If you need help with this, you can always contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to give you guidance.  They may even be able to deploy this stuff for you as well also.  If your home network is also large enough, you may want to consider breaking up into smaller segments, which are known as “Subnets”. By doing this, in the chance that a Cyberattacker does break through one Subnet, the statistical odds of them breaking through the others are significantly lowered as a result.  But in order for this to happen, make sure that you are using at least what is known as “Two Factor Authentication”, or “2FA” for short.  This is where you use at least two different layers of authentication.  Of course, the more the better.

*Avoid the Chatrooms:

One thing I did not realize until now is that many gaming platforms actually come with their own chatting agent as an add on to the game.  While it can be nice to engage in a conversation with your competition, just remember one thing: You do not know who is on the other side.  This can be a very dangerous proposition, especially if you are a teenager.  So, stay away from doing this!!!  If you are going to engage in this type of activity, always let your parents know ahead of time, so that they can keep an eye and make sure that you do not get lured into anything that is malicious in nature, such as asking you for personal information, or taking you to a malicious site, which could possibly infect your entire home network.

*Don’t ever use the mobile app version of the game:

As far as possible, never download this.  The issue here is that mobile apps are a huge place where malicious payloads can reside at.  Although Apple has always been known for setting up very high standards for mobile app developers in terms of security, Google does not enforce this nearly as well.  So therefore, if you want to download a mobile app, always do it from Apple.  But even before you do that, always do a Google search on the gaming app that you want to download to make sure that there are not too many negative reviews about it.  If there are, then that should be a huge red flag to you.

*Never rely upon vendor settings:

Once you purchase a gaming system, make sure that you configure the security settings that are unique to your own needs.  Never rely upon the ones that have been configured by the vendor, as these are deemed not to be safe enough.  This is especially critical if your gaming product is an IoT based one.  In this regard, never enable the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP).  If you do so, this could allow for unforeseen connectivity to take place between all of the other devices that are connected to your home network, thus increasing the attack surface for the Cyberattacker to penetrate into.  Not only that, but this protocol also lets information and data to be shared between devices without your knowledge.

My Thoughts On This

Well there you have it, some tips to help keep you safe in 2021 as you have fun with your games.  Remember that one of the key reasons why the Cyberattacker is targeting this area is that with the second wave of COVID19 now in full swing, many people (if not all) will still be staying at home. One has to keep the mind busy, so gaming is a good option.

Finally, here is one more tip. Don’t ever give away money or make donations to a gaming company if asked to do so while you are playing.  Although the vendor may be legitimate, it is very difficult to tell these days what is for real and what is for not.  So your best bet is just avoiding to this, even though you might be further tempted with lures of free games in return.