Online gaming is a massively lucrative industry, and that just might come with some new problems. According to research published today from Kaspersky Lab, 53% of people regularly game online, a figure that rises to 64% for 25-34 year-olds and 67% for those aged 16-24. And that means online gaming is potentially lucrative for cybercriminals, as hacked gaming accounts can be sold on the black market.
The global games audience is now estimated to be between 2.2 billion and 2.6 billion and is still continuing to grow, which makes the industry a clear target for cybercriminals looking to gain access to personal data such and bank card information, a trend which is clearly shown by the recent attacks on both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.
Kapersky Lab mostly warns that gamers are at increased risk because of how active they tend to be, whether that's logging on to their favorite MMO every night or picking up a mobile game while waiting in line, gamers are often constantly connected. And where they tend to be vulnerable is with public Wi-Fi networks. Of those people who have experienced a successful or attempted attack on one of their online accounts, 16% identified their gaming accounts as being a target, a figure that rises to 21% for men. And, as 55% of people can't quickly restore their gaming account details if lost, the distress that accompanies such attacks is significantly amplified.
Because 27% of gamers regularly use a smartphone to feed their gaming addiction, they're at the most risk because those devices aren't inherently secure. Sure, mobile viruses and hacks are less common than those targeted at PCs, that doesn't mean they don't happen. But virus protection and security software on mobile isn't common at all, to the point where 56% say they don't take any additional security precautions when using public networks, which presents obvious security risks. This danger is further enhanced by the fact that just 5% of people selected their gaming account as being one of three that require the strongest passwords.
And because all of your profiles are connected, usually through social media, you can easily end up losing access to several accounts at once.
Andrei Mochola, Head of Consumer Business at Kaspersky Lab, commented on the new study saying:
With a treasure trove of personal information now available online, cybercriminals have more opportunities than ever to get their hands on user's private data, which they can then sell on the digital black market. Online gamers – both amateur and professional – are understandably concerned about having their accounts hacked, or being locked out of their accounts by forgetting their passwords. This is a dilemma that users face every day, with many choosing the less secure option of using either the same password for all their accounts, or simple passwords that are easy for hackers to guess. However, only by taking appropriate precautions and using strong, unique passwords will users be confident that their valuable accounts are protected and that all their efforts have not gone to waste.