Online gaming has become wildly popular. Many users access networks through gaming consoles to play others across the globe. Some only connect to upload or download data like scores and updates.
A new popular way to play online is by playing browser games. These games are accessed through a web browser on a computer or mobile device like Android. The advantages of browser games are readily apparent as they can be accessed anywhere without needing to download software to a device.
Most browser games are social by nature. Featuring group chats and community interaction, it is not unusual for users to develop relationships with each other. Games often encourage this by requiring the help of others to be successful.
Browser gaming takes place while accessing the internet, a realm where cybersecurity risks are prevalent. While made to provide enjoyment, it is important to realize that there are some safety concerns. Maintaining an awareness of these issues can ensure you get a positive gaming experience and avoid becoming a victim.
Malware and Viruses
As with virtually anything involving the internet, the concern of malware and viruses is present when playing browser games, too. Malware often rides the back of a virus presented through a scam email (phishing) or the chat feature of a game. Malicious hackers will often interact in chat rooms and encourage another player to download a bug disguised as an “update”.
Once malware infects a computer or device, it can provide unlimited access to the hacker. It is important to remember that any updates should be accessed through the game itself or the associated website. Most browser games are updated automatically, and downloads are rarely required.
Server and Coding Issues
Browser games operate from the server of the game developer or company that provides the game. Unfortunately, these servers can be vulnerable to hacking and lead to an open connection between your device and the hacker. Gamers should avoid unfamiliar games or those that lack popularity.
Coding issues do not typically lead to major hacking issues but can cause your computer or device to act abnormally. Game coding is often vulnerable to “bugs” because it is pushed out quickly or not reviewed with proper scrutiny. Finding popular games can help avoid running into this type of issue.
Negative Social Behavior
The social nature of browser gaming can lead to some unfortunate risks. Most of these revolve around social engineering attempts: trying to trick users into installing malware. However, there are other aspects of social interactions involved in maintaining a safe environment.
A new genre of crime has been created called “virtual crime”. These crimes rely on the passion many online and browser gamers have for the game. These crimes range from forcing users to provide virtual funds for protection against annihilation to demanding real-world ransoms.
While social interactions are a key cog to the success of browser gaming, it is important for players to not become so wrapped up that they are vulnerable to manipulation. Virtual crime does hold consequences as people have been prosecuted in real courtrooms. Any sign of negative social behaviors should be reported to the developer immediately.
Playing it Safe
It is possible to enjoy online gaming without constant anxiety over the potential risks involved. Taking a few steps to protect yourself and your device can make the gaming experience a great one.
Realizing that browser gaming poses the same inherent risks as any other internet activity is a good first step to protecting yourself. The virtual world and fun times lend themselves to a feeling of false security.
Practicing typical internet safety behaviors is vital. Consider downloading a VPN app to your Android device or computer. A VPN can provide an encrypted connection, creating a shield from direct access by a hacker.
Remember that browser games are typically updated automatically and do not require downloads. Anyone attempting to convince a user that a download is required should be reported immediately. Always access the game through its app or website and avoid mysterious downloaded copies.
Use an appropriate firewall and strong network passwords. Many online games require adjustments to firewall settings that can leave your system vulnerable. Consider the risks before allowing a game to change any system settings.
Online gaming has ballooned into a massive industry. While providing a unique social experience, it can leave gamers vulnerable. Take a few precautions to ensure your safety before connecting to your favorite browser game.