If you’re playing online, you’re probably being spied on. Privacy issues can be inherent in the design of the game itself, such as games that require access to your webcam or microphone. Some companies sell all relevant information collected about you to advertisers, and others collect huge amounts of data for their own purposes. It’s also unclear whether your data will be safe on gaming companies’ servers, as previous data breaches have shown.
This article discusses some of the privacy issues in online gaming. At the end of the article, you will find a list of steps you can take to reduce your risk of becoming a victim.
Access to camera and microphone
Many multiplayer games require access to the microphone to communicate. Young children, in particular, may not realize that the microphone transmits everything they say. If someone talks about personal information in the room, that information will be passed on to whoever is listening.
Similarly, many gamers broadcast their content online for viewers, which exposes them to similar risks. If their personal information (passwords or location, for example) is visible in the background of the video or on their desktop during screen sharing, it can be stolen and misused.
Online gaming malware
Malicious code can be inserted into the game itself, especially if it has been hacked. This code is used to access your personal information, such as your login data, your passwords or even your payment information. Always try to use a free antivirus to protect your windows and beware of free games from unknown developers: they could be much more expensive. Unfortunately, no one is safe on the internet, so be careful.
Poorly protected servers
Hackers can break into any company’s servers without you making a single mistake. That’s why it’s important to limit the information you share online and familiarize yourself with the track record of the companies that store your sensitive information. the Sony PlayStation hack is perhaps the most famous example. When hackers broke into the company’s database, they gained access to the personal information of more than 70 million user accounts, including names, passwords, credit card details and addresses.
Some games, like Pokémon GO, track your real-world location, sometimes to sell this information to advertisers. For example, if you frequent a certain clothing store and the game notices it, it may ask the advertiser to start showing you ads for clothing from that store. In itself, this is an invasion of privacy if you do not consent to it, but the damage would be even greater if this same data were revealed by a security breach. You can mitigate both of these issues by disabling location tracking if possible.
Ubisoft, for example, which owns the Assassin’s Creed and Tom Clancy franchises, claims to respect privacy and security, but the company can log your gaming habits at any time. It can also log your location and the amount of money you spend in-game.
Many gamers invest thousands of hours in their video game characters. This is most common in massively multiplayer games like World of Warcraft. This is why many gamers find their account targeted: hackers know that people are willing to pay large sums to regain their access. The ransomware is usually injected when players purchase third-party, unlicensed power-ups to enhance their character.
A keylogger is a type of malware that records all your keystrokes to capture your login credentials. Through emails or private messages, hackers posing as game developers can offer free content or access to a beta version of a new game. phishing, the keylogger records any passwords or login details you enter, allowing the hacker to gain access to your account. From there, it can steal your personal data or demand ransom for your account.
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