Online gamers risking data security

People who play online games are opening themselves up to security attacks by putting the need for speed ahead of online security requirements.

That’s according to new research by Kaspersky Lab, which found that our decision-making skills falter while in ‘gaming mode’.

The cybersecurity firm found that one in ten gamers admitted to switching off their internet security to improve their gaming experience.

Commenting on the study, Dr Dimitrios Tsivrikos, consumer and business psychologist at University College London, said that with addictive gaming behaviour the player’s competitive nature takes over and they lose control.

“One way that manifests itself is by people getting caught up in the game, letting their barriers down and becoming lax with security,” Dr Tsivrikos explained. “Getting to the next level and beating your opponent often takes precedence over keeping your data secure.”

The survey also revealed that 42% of online gamers have encountered someone pretending to be another person online, and 24% experienced someone asking suspicious questions about their personal information. Another 17% encountered someone asking for financial information, and the same proportion found someone attempting to use their gaming log-ins.

Yet many gamers — especially millennials — demonstrate “woefully poor judgement” when it comes to password management, Kaspersky Lab said.

Among those aged 18-35, 71% admitted that they use the same password for various online gaming platforms. The age group most security conscious with their log-ins is 36-55, with almost half (49%) saying they have never used the same password for more than one online game.

Kaspersky Lab also found that almost half (49%) of those surveyed had used unofficial and potentially insecure sources while gaming to buy add-ons for an online game/gaming app, and 27% have clicked on a link sent to them from someone they are talking to in an online gaming platform.

“Online gaming carries the same risks as any other online activity, especially with the rise in our competitive culture and the need to interact with others while playing games on potentially insecure platforms. Unfortunately, performance comes before security in many instances, and players do not want security software reducing their gaming speed,” said David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

“As we’ve previously seen with other online activities, such as online shopping, when tempted with the next best thing, or in this case, the next gaming level, people’s awareness can decrease, leaving them exposed to all sort of cyber-threats,” Emm added. “People need to consider a safer way of gaming.”

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