Gaming consoles were safe for children and adults a few years back because they weren’t prone to many underlying cybersecurity risks. Modern gaming consoles can connect to the internet, which makes them even more critical devices to protect yourself against cyber threats, along with your PC and smartphone.
All the new features introduced in modern gaming consoles allow you to play the most popular AAA games and use them as streaming and recording devices, game sharing devices, and a great tool to watch movies and TV shows on streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and more.
Meanwhile, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the gaming industry saw a 27% increase in spending in the US. As impressive as this number is, it also raises concerns as it introduces more and more new gamers to the security risks of the online world, similar to the ones smartphones encounter in modern society compared to phones in the early 2000s.
Gaming consoles can be used for multiple services, so they must frequently be connected to the internet. The connectivity can pose risks for the user, such as hacking, data loss, and phishing that put the users’ privacy and security in danger, most of which happen because of bad password practices. For instance, back in 2011, a PSN hack exposed the personal information of 77 million users to the initiators of the attack.
Security risks for gaming consoles
Below we will explain some standard security risks that all gamers encounter when connected to the internet.
DDoS attacks do not directly target gamers. They instead target the gaming platforms gamers use, shutting down access to them and, as a result, preventing you from using your gaming console as intended.
Cybercriminals use DDoS attacks, an abbreviation for distributed denial-of-service attacks, to overload websites, networks, and web serves by flooding them with traffic. This causes the servers to crash, rendering their services unusable. DDoS attacks are among the most prevalent cybersecurity threats to gaming platforms like Xbox Live, the Epic Games Store, Steam, and PSN.
For instance, a DDoS attack was used in the 2011 PlayStation Network hack we mentioned earlier.
While DDoS attacks can be very disruptive, they rarely compromise player data or cause security-related damage to a gaming company.
Website and Email Spoofing
Website Spoofing is commonly used to spread malware within the gaming industry. This attack is among the most dangerous ones because as targets gamers and users directly. The attack aims to steal players’ credentials to access their legit gaming accounts and steal information from them.
These attacks lure players into clicking on a link via email or another website using highly incentivized calls to action.
The player is then redirected to a fake website, similar to the legitimate site they are looking for, and asked to enter their credentials to log into their accounts. The hacker uses these credentials to access the player’s account, private information, and credit card details.
Spoofed websites can be used in several attacks, ranging from standard email phishing, smashing, fishing, and search engine phishing.
Keyloggers and Brute Force Attacks
Keyloggers and brute force attacks are common in the gaming industry. Attackers use social engineering techniques to infiltrate accounts and consoles based on player behavior. Although it is possible to combine different login details, most breaches are achieved by brute force or keylogging.
A brute force attack is where hackers use an extensive password library to attempt to crack combinations on consoles or gaming accounts. Keylogging attempts require hacking malware to record keypad strokes and track them to obtain a password.
Keylogging and brute force attacks are used to gain access to a player’s account to steal personal and credit card details, which adversaries can use for more inventory. This inventory can then be sold on the black market for real cash.
Best ways to protect your gaming console and yourself
Use a premium gaming VPN
If you want to increase your gaming account’s security and privacy, a gaming VPN is a significant investment. Install a VPN on your router will protect all your home devices, including your gaming console.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN), in addition to protecting your account against hackers and spies online, can occasionally improve your streaming and gaming speeds or provide other features like location geolocation spoofing and stream unblocking.
A VPN hides your exact location so you can access streaming services and other games that are not available in your area. It also protects your internet connection from throttling, while the encrypted data sent through the VPN tunnel are safe from external threats.
Use stronger passwords and a password manager
Even in modern times, a password is your first line of defense against any attack aiming to access your account and personal information.
Despite passwords’ importance, “123456” remains the most-used password, while a breakdown of the most common passwords worldwide shows that people still use passwords that are easy to guess.
Consequently, password management software ensures your password is secure and unique. These programs generate strong passwords and store them away safely from your browser.
Additionally, password manager prevents you from using the same password for multiple accounts. This is a common pitfall as the average person uses the same password for at least six websites or platforms. Finally, a password manager saves you from remembering each password, which is the root of all evil when using weak passwords.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication on all your gaming accounts
A two-factor authentication process is a standard option on all major gaming consoles. You get extra protection with 2FA. You must enter additional numbers and one-time codes to log in to your gaming account. An attacker would need access to multiple of your devices to bypass Two-Factor Authentication.
It is essential to take the time to educate yourself about gaming console cybersecurity scams. This article will help you to stay safe while playing online games and streaming videos using your console.