Since the internet exploded in popularity, cybercrime has been on the radar of many online users. From avoiding pop-ups and fake emails from Nigerian princes to strong passwords and multi-factor authentication.
But while browsing the internet kept people entertained for a while, there was always the hope we could combine the reach of the web with our love of playing video games. Being able to play your favourite game with someone halfway around the world has enabled the video games community to grow exponentially and has redefined the way games are made.
However, just like the regular internet, playing games online comes with cybersecurity pitfalls that must be carefully avoided and/or have measures put in place. All players are affected by cyber threats, both from hackers and bullies, but are some demographics more vulnerable than others?
A Constant Hacking Threat
Players represent a great opportunity for hackers to acquire data thanks largely to micro-transactions. For example, in 2018, Fortnite accounts were hacked and players frozen out through password changes. These accounts were then sold by hackers. More recently, Neopets was hacked in 2022 putting 69 million users’ data at risk, plus Roblox and Bandai Namco suffered their own data breaches within three weeks of each other.
The risks of hacking haven’t gone away. Just last autumn, 2K Games sent a warning to its users that their data may have been stolen and put up for sale by hackers.
How Can We Protect Ourselves?
Strong passwords are essential for protecting against hackers while mixing them up and avoiding using the same ones for multiple accounts adds an additional level of security. Jed Kafetz, Head of Penetration Testing at ethical hacking experts Redscan, advocates for multi-factor authentication (MFA).
"MFA provides an important secondary layer of defence in the event of a password being stolen and is especially important given people’s tendency to reuse passwords across accounts.”
Other essential cybersecurity measures include:
- Using a virtual private network (VPN).
- Using end-to-end encrypted communication channels.
- Updating app versions when available.
- Avoiding personal and financial data while using public Wi-Fi.
- Ignoring unsolicited communications.
Which Demographics Are More At Risk When Playing Games Online?
The video games community is widely diverse, with players enjoying their favourite games all around the world. Sadly, a report by Preply discovered that over 90% of players have witnessed or experienced emotional abuse or bullying while playing video games, with more than 2 in 5 experiencing racism.
Doxxing is a form of hacking that is closely linked with online bullying, and 20% of players have been affected by this. Female players are targeted more often for hateful behaviour, with 53% of those identifying as women being attacked because of their gender, versus 37% of those identifying as males. The same report discovered that racism is the most common form of online bullying, further increasing the difficulty that minorities face online.
A 2021 survey discovered that income level, education and being part of a minority or disadvantaged population all contribute to cybercrime. Similarly, black people, indigenous people, and people of colour (BIPOC) are more likely to have their identities stolen than white people (21% compared to 15%).
Call To Action
#RaiseTheGame is determined to inspire cultural and behavioural changes in games businesses and organisations by celebrating examples of good practices and driving activities that strive for positive impact. If you are interested in making a difference in the gaming community, consider using our guidance to educate and inspire users in ethical and safer practices; especially online. Get involved with the pledge to improve equality, diversity and inclusion across the video game industry for both professionals and players alike.