Online games: 5 risks to your online security and privacy

Kevin Martin 13 Dec 2016

Whether you play games on your PC or mobile, there are precautions you need to take to keep your devices and data secure.

We all love playing online games; from time to time until late in the night on our mobile devices, gaming consoles, or computer. One of the most amazing things about gaming now,  is that we are connected to the whole world and can interact with each other in many ways. To do so, we are required  to set up accounts on game platforms and talk to people we don’t know at all.

With this new level of activity comes risks, especially from viruses, identity theft, and phishing attacks. But you can keep enjoying your gaming session and meeting new people if you are aware of these and protect yourself.


Phishing is a scamming technique that consists of sending emails that look like they are official communications from a real company. They usually concern a problem with your account or an important message inviting you to click on a link.

The risk is that the link will lead to a hoax site that asks you to enter personal information such as your username and password. Unfortunately, since it’s not legitimate, the information you enter goes to cybercriminals and your account is then compromised and your information stolen.

Nowadays, attackers are really good in designing emails and copycat websites with fraudulent URLs which look the same as your favorite game, so we recommend that you type the URL of the website into your browser instead of clicking on the link and go directly to your account to see for yourself if something is really wrong.

What to do if you are phished

We recommend that you change your account information immediately if this happens and forward the email to the game developer’s abuse department.

You can easily manager all your passwords, and change them when necessary, by using Avast Passwords. It’s available for PC, Android, iOS, adn just recently released, Avast Passwords for Mac

Viruses and malware

Cybercriminals are interested in targeting gamers more than ever before because of the popularity of games on all devices. The sheer numbers provide ample opportunity to steal account information and credit cards.

How to protect your system from infection

Be sure your machine and your software are up-to-date, and if you think you have been infected by a virus, scan your system with an antivirus software such as Avast Antivirus.

With Avast installed, you can stay protected without worrying about lag or performance issues. Avast Free Antivirus was at the top of the list compared to 19 other security solutions in October’s Performance Test Report conducted by AV-Comparatives testing lab.

You also won’t be annoyed by interruptions. When you're playing on your PC, Avast provides a gaming mode that protects you without showing you any alerts or notifications.

A common way for gamers to pick up an infection is by downloading from shady sites. We recommend that you only download games, add-ons, and patches from trusted sites where you can see security certificates such as the HTTPS green padlock.

If you like to play with cheats, be particularly careful. All Avast’s paid PC security products come with a sandbox. The Avast Sandbox lets you run a questionable program without risking the safety or security of your computer.

Mobile users also need to be aware of malware and act to protect your device and data. Avast Mobile Security protects against viruses and malware that cause popups and unwanted ads, plus it helps protect your privacy by alerting you to unecessary permissions that some apps require.

Identity theft

Cybercriminals collect personally identifiable information in order to build profiles on potential victims. When playing multi-player games, it’s very common to have a chat functions to talk with other players, so please only share the minimum information with other users even if you consider the other players as friends. When you create online profiles containing sensitive information such as your name, phone number, and house address, keep it private or don’t share with others if it’s not necessary.

If you have children, we recommend you to use parental controls to restrict access to chat functionality or make them aware not to share this type of information.

Social engineering scams

This technique is as old as dirt, and simply means tricking someone into giving away vital information. In the case of gamers, it could be your account, virtual goods, or even your credit card number. One common scam, is that someone on a chat will ask you to add him or her on a social network, such as the one on Steam, because they pretend to know one of your friends. The solution is to never click on the link they send you because you simply don’t know this person at all.

Webcam control

Anybody with a bit of knowledge or a nearby search engine, can learn how to take the control of your webcam, so when you don’t use your webcam make sure that your default setting is turned to off. One of the best solutions is to cover it with paper or tape.

Now that you are aware of these risks and you know how to be protected, you can enjoy your favorite games without any the worry of seeing your game turn into a nightmare. 

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