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Ways to Secure Your Internet Connection When Gaming Online

Ever since video games became available to the public in the early ’70s, they have been a very popular way to make time pass for both adults and children. Back then, the experience was nowhere near as immersive as it is today, but the novelty of this futuristic form of entertainment sparked the curiosity of players from all over the world. 

The internet launched officially in 1983 but started rising as a global phenomenon during the late ’80s. This marked a new era for video games – online gaming – with games such as Neverwinter Nights (1991) and Doom (1994), Lineage (1998), and StarCraft (1998) being considered the pioneers of online multiplayer gaming. 

Today, online gaming takes on a whole new level, with eSports competitions being held all over the globe and a huge variety of games that offer online multiplayer options. All of this is possible thanks to the rise of new technologies and high-speed internet, which made online games available for anyone in the world. 

With great power, however, comes great responsibility. This widely available connectivity can expose online games to a range of risks, such as viruses, hackers, and intruders looking to exploit security vulnerabilities. To prevent this from happening and continue enjoying their favorite online games, players need to take online security very seriously. Luckily, there are quite a few ways to stay safe while gaming online, which we will be discussing today.

1. Employ general online security best practices 

Internet gaming was designed as a secure and safe way to enjoy these activities with people from all over the world, overcoming physical barriers. And, if players educate themselves in employing online security best practices, online gaming can continue to be, for the most part, risk-free. 

Before we go on to talk about best practices that focus solely on the online gaming environment, we need to make sure players understand the principles of basic online security. Because, as the saying goes, you need to learn to walk before you learn how to run. 

Some key best practices when it comes to online security are:

  • Use reputable antivirus, firewall, and antispyware software
  • Never open files or links sent via email or instant message unless they come from a verified source
  • Configure web browsers security settings
  • Don’t disclose personal or financial data to people you meet on the internet
  • Create and use strong passwords that follow security practices
  • Keep your applications, software, and firmware up to date

2. Learn gaming-related security best practices as well

Besides following general online security best practices, players also need to understand the particular risks online games can pose for their cyber-safety. Doing so will help them recognize and prevent situations that could jeopardize their privacy. 

The first thing players need to do is secure their gaming and game store accounts. These accounts often include personal data and financial information, which should not end up in the wrong hands. Players should never disclose their login information and should always log out when their gaming session is finished. 

The internet is full of trolls and harassers that try to enforce their abusive behavior on players. If this happens, it is advised that players don’t engage with them and report them to the game’s support team with documents of the abuse, if possible. 

When purchasing games, this should only be done using trustworthy platforms such as Steam, Uplay, PlayStation Store, or Microsoft Store. If players want to download mods for specific games, they should be very sure the developers can be trusted, and these mods won’t have them banned if used while online. 

3. Use a VPN

VPN is short for Virtual Private Network, and it is a type of software used to encrypt internet connections by hiding the IP address of the user and replacing it with a different one. These tools are used for various purposes, including bypassing internet censorship or accessing work-related private networks, but most of the time, VPNs are used to enhance online privacy and security. 

VPNs can be used for gaming as well, so that players can protect themselves against hackers and various attacks, keep their identity hidden, and even access foreign servers. 

Hackers are everywhere, but especially in the world of online gaming. By getting access to a player’s IP address, hackers can perform DDoS attacks, which basically flood the player’s systems, overwhelming them and making it impossible for genuine users to access these systems. Because VPNs mask the original IP address, it is that much more difficult for hackers to perform these attacks. 

4. Secure your wireless network

While internet speed does seem to be better on cable, many people connect their computers and consoles using a Wi-Fi network. This allows multiple devices to be connected to the internet at the same time, even if they are in different areas of the house. However, wireless routers can be vulnerable to cyber threats if they are not properly protected. 

Fortunately, players have quite a few ways to improve the security of their wireless network:

  • Changing name and passphrase of the router after installation
  • Reviewing security levels and opting for a router that provides WPA or WPA2 encryption
  • Create separate passphrases for visitors to keep their main network hidden
  • Using a firewall to block communication with unwanted sources

5. Keep router firmware up to date

Internet routers use what is called firmware – basically, low-level software – to run their processes. This is, essentially, a piece of software that controls how to router behaves, including the type of security standards it sets. New-generation routers update their firmware automatically, but older models may require manual firmware updates. 

Regardless of the type of router used, it is advised that users check periodically to see if their router’s firmware is updated to the latest version. These updates patch bugs, solve security issues and add new layers of protection against exploits or malicious activities that have been recently discovered. 

If manual updates are required, users should connect to the router control panel and follow the steps recommended by the manufacturer. For further information, users can check the manufacturers’ website and look for support there.