SkyNet Or Saviour? Cyber Security In The Games Industry
By Frankie Wallace
With the significant rise of online games over the last decade, it has become apparent that web-based dangers will start to affect the video game industry as well. Even though the gaming industry revolves around high-functioning technology, gaming platforms haven’t been designed to guard against malware and personal hacking threats. For this reason, some tech experts are expecting the gaming industry to be the next big target of cyber attacks.
Some saw the writing on the wall with Steam attacks in recent years. Since Steam was owned by video game giant Valve, you could tell it was only a matter of time before these attacks worked upward. What we have unfortunately found is that predictions following the Steam hackings came true, and the video game industry is losing more and more money each year due to this problem.
This has led some sources to actually call gaming a “black hole for cyber security.” They see the industry’s vulnerabilities and recognize that it cannot handle what may be yet to come. How have these things been affecting gamers and the world at large, though? Furthermore, what can gamers do about it?
How Cyber Attacks Have Affected The Gaming Industry
For several years now, we have been seeing hacks within the gaming industry affect systems such as XBox Live and Sony’s Playstation. Both platforms have been victims of DDoS attacks, which cause server failure. Some hackers have been sentenced to jail time for it over the years, but that has not stopped the attacks from happening overall.
Additionally, we are seeing more occur due to the emergence of mobile gaming, since mobile devices are extremely prone to cyber attacks. For this reason, games like Pokemon Go have been subject to similar crimes, for which people have even been imprisoned.
Some believe that these things keep happening because hackers are gamers. Granted, the typical age range of cyber criminals has some overlap with the average gaming community, which is within the ages of 18-40. The intentions are different now than they may have been a decade ago, however. In the past, experts believe that game hacks were for the purpose of beating an opponent, but due to the interconnectedness of gaming systems with home computer networks, it is now a fear that ill-intentioned gamers will go further and take personal information as well.
The Growing Presence of Cyber Crime
Cyber security in video games is representative of a bigger problem with cyber crime globally. This reaches and comes from far outside of the United States, as seen in the Russia-Trump fiasco surrounding the 2016 Presidential election, which we are still talking about today. This has led politicians to discuss cyberattacks leading up to the 2020 election as well.
Of course, politics is not the main breeding ground for these attacks, either. In fact, it is a noticeable threat to all industries, even affecting hospital patients. The monetary worth of personal data on the black market is high, and any industry that holds information that could be held for ransom or used in identity theft needs to be prepared.
The problem is not going away any time soon, though. While the ultimate responsibility should fall on the shoulders of giants — or industries in this case — these giants cannot be trusted. Individuals in society have to take precautions as well.
How Gamers Can Combat Cyber Threats
While there have been reports of gaming conglomerates taking action against cyber criminals, their specific efforts at cyber security have not been widely publicized. As aforementioned, certain hackers are facing jail time for their crimes against the gaming industry. However, it is not exactly known what efforts game developers are taking to address the problem.
Thus, video game players need to take matters into their own hands a bit. Common cyber security measures they should utilize are:
- Using secure networks.
- Enabling two-factor verification for all devices, applications, and software.
- Enabling a password manager and changing all passwords regularly.
- Never giving out personal information through online gaming.
- Disposing of old technology (smartphones, computers, devices, and the like).
Of course, a lot of gamers are children or teenagers as well. Parents of gamers need to be aware of these security measures and ensure they are backing up all of their information on their home computers and networks. For this, third-party cloud systems may work efficiently, in addition to physical backups.
The gaming industry recognizes these problems as they have been victimized by them, but it is on the gamers to take advantage of their own cyber security for now. As cyber threats continue to plague the world, the abilities we have to stop them will keep growing as well. However, in this waiting period, it is necessary to keep an eye out for things that are suspicious and fight back with what we do have.