New technologies and high-speed internet connections have helped online gaming become a popular pastime on the internet. Because gamers invest large amounts of time and money in games widely available today, others see an opportunity for mischief or illicit profit. The technological and social risks of online games should be understood by anyone who enjoys them.
- Interacting with strangers who trick you into giving up personal information.
- Downloading ‘cheats’ which claim to help you but which, in fact, may contain viruses/spyware.
- Exploitation of security settings on your computer, giving criminals access to your information. This could lead to identity theft.
- Downloading or obtaining in another way, pirated copies of games, which aside from legal implications, can contain hidden malicious software.
- Dealing with real-world and online predators who lure you into giving them information about yourself. This could include inappropriate contact with children by predators posing as a child.
- Participating in a real-world marketplace in on online game (where you can buy high-level characters, for instance) could involve real-life criminals who are looking to steal your money. Only make credit card payments on sites you trust and don’t send money transfers, cash or make payments outside of the site.
- Ensure your computer and devices have the most current security software, web browser, and operating systems.
- Play only with authorised versions of games which you have purchased from the correct sources and for which you have a licence.
- Verify the authenticity and security of downloaded files and new software by buying from reputable sources.
- Choose a user name that does not reveal any personal information. Similarly, if your game includes the ability to create a personal profile, make sure you don’t give away any personal information.
- Make sure you keep the game software up to date. Most multiplayer games automatically update themselves before letting you connect. Be very wary about downloading any unauthorised program relating to the game.