Why Keeping Your Gaming Console Secure Should be a Priority in 2023

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In recent years, video game consoles have become an entertainment must-have for adults and kids alike. There are an estimated 3.09 billion active video gamers worldwide. The UK is Europe’s leading video game market and the sixth-largest gaming market worldwide.

Unsurprisingly, the rising popularity of video gaming has proved an irresistible draw for cyber-criminals looking to target players’ login credentials and personal information. 

We recently asked 1000 US gamers to share their experiences with cybersecurity. What they told us provides powerful insights into what gamers need to do to stay safe and secure.

Which Gaming Console is Most Prone to Hacking?

It turns out that getting hacked while playing a video game is a common event, with two-thirds of our survey respondents, all of whom play daily or almost every day, having experienced it at least once. 

While almost half (46%) of PC users had never experienced a hack or a scam, Xbox users (87%) were the most likely to be targeted, with nearly one-quarter of these getting hacked or scammed six or more times. Similarly, 67% of mobile users had been hacked when playing a video game, while PlayStation and Nintendo console users fared a little better, with 62% and 61%, respectively, experiencing one or more hacking attempts.

While the survey findings confirm that Xbox is a top target for hackers, all users will benefit from tightening up their cybersecurity when gaming. 

Counting the Cost of a Hack

While over half (53%) of the gamers who were victims of a cyber-attack reported that their email was compromised, for others, there were more alarming consequences. Nearly half reported their phone number (48%), payment data (45%) or financial accounts (43%) were compromised, with a further 38% saying that compromises to their social media account access resulted in them being locked out.

Asked to evaluate how much money they’d lost from being hacked while playing video games, the average value of compromised data reported by gamers participating in our survey was $330. 

Risky Security Behavior 

Gamers report employing a variety of strategies to protect their gaming accounts. Using multiple-character passwords and thinking twice before clicking links or downloading files were the top actions utilized by gamers. That said, 48% of those who depended solely on multiple-character passwords alone had been hacked while gaming.

Other extra precautions gamers report taking include using antivirus software, keeping software up-to-date, enabling two-factor authentication, using different passwords for each account and using a VPN while gaming. 

Worryingly, more than half of gamers confirm that the pursuit of cheat codes was more important to them than cybersecurity while gaming. The problem is that hackers attach malware to cheat codes, so gamers would be well advised to think twice about chasing down cheat codes to boost their performance.

Finally, despite the fact that 55% of gamers said they were aware of phishing techniques used to trick users into disclosing sensitive information on a spoofed web page, a staggering 60% had fallen victim to scams from email senders disguised as gaming companies. 

Top Post-Hack Actions

Gamers’ most common reaction following a data breach was to change their passwords immediately (62%). 

Compromised data also led many gamers to switch to a different gaming console (68%), with Xbox users proving the most likely to react in this way (78%). However, these players – along with Gen Z players – were also the laxest when it comes to protecting their data while gaming online and are the most likely to risk using possibly unsafe cheat codes.

How to Game Responsibly

While strong passwords are the most common tactic gamers use to prevent hackers from stealing their personal information, this isn’t always enough.

With gamers under attack, improving gaming security depends on deploying every defensive measure available to gaming companies and gamers. Gaming companies need to recognize the critical role they play in protecting their applications and users. Security starts with the authentication strategies employed, so providing more secure and phishing-resistant multi-factor authentication is now a must-have in their security toolkit. Additionally, using certified FIDO passwordless cryptographic approaches that accelerate access while raising security ensures a level of trust in the devices. 

Gamers should keep their software, device firmware and firewalls up-to-date consistently and use a minimum of two factors for authentication, again preferably unphishable factors. However, if worse comes to worst and you proceed with a password, never use the same password twice.

Most importantly, always exercise caution when clicking links in emails or downloading files and be hyper-aware of the risks associated with cheat codes.

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