Online gaming is creating waves in India from the past few years as a medium of entertainment. In just over 5 years the niche hobby unavailable to much of the Indian populace has not just expanded but poised for penetration into the fabric of our modern society as an opportunity to entertain and rejuvenate. In contrast to the widespread prevalence and commonality of video games today, there was indeed a time when most people either did not understand the very concept of gaming or those who did indulge in the hobby were mostly young geeky boys with powerful and expensive computers or consoles.
What became a turning point for Indian gaming was the increased availability of high-speed internet combined with the popularisation of smart phones. India has been topping the charts for the highest percentage growth in new paying users for two years in a row. The total revenue from online gaming is estimated to cross the astounding 153$ billion mark sometime next year.
Although it has been literally fun and games for most people engaged in online gaming, a concerning number of users are becoming victims of cybercrime through their online interactions, these can range from fraudulent transactions to identity theft. Thousands of users log in each day without much anonymity, interact with strangers and engage in monetary transactions inside as well as outside the game environment. Although the internet and by extension online gaming communities are now more monitored and moderated than they have ever been, the sheer number of unsuspecting and unaware users active today make it all worth the increased effort for attackers who make off with millions every year.
Ensuring the security of user data and protecting the users against would-be attackers becomes the onus of game developers. There’s much that can be done to make the general populace aware of the risky nature of online dealings especially in online gaming but the better way to go about this is to prevent undesirable actions and events from taking place to begin with. Here’s where game developers can step in to protect their consumer base.
Multiplayer games often involve anonymous players engaging on the same platform. They can use built-in chat features or connect on sites like discord. Sometimes these interactions can become acrimonious and may take the form of cyberbullying and harassment. For many parents, there is also a persistent risk of their children interacting with sexual predators and other criminals who can use the opportunity to lure unsuspecting minors. To safeguard against such risks, it is important to always minimise contact with strangers and shut down any abusive language immediately. Game developers should also give players an opportunity to report unusual activities or players that threaten the ecosystem’s integrity.
Further, the webcams have always been a vulnerable element as they are easy to hack. With inbuilt cameras on our phones and laptops, the risk has increased manifold. Once hacked, a webcam can provide the hacker a way into the gamers device. To protect against this, one can start by checking the device’s default setting to ensure that the camera stays ‘off’ unless directed otherwise. The camera can also be masked with a physical cover or a masking tape.
Malware like Trojans and adware have become so sophisticated that they can sneak into your device even through legitimate purchases. This is because many of these malwares often mimic or modify an authorised app and are available on legitimate marketplaces. Simply put, they are extremely hard to identify, and users are often unaware that they are carrying the malware in their device till an attack is triggered. It can pay to install a good cybersecurity app to scan a game before downloading it.
There is a great amount of change that must be initiated on the part of the game developers to safeguard their consumer base from malicious actors. Gaming in India is booming and according to the data, the industry will rake in billions in revenue each year, therefore the implementation of state-of-art security measures and promotion of cyber security good practices cannot be compromised.
The article has been written by Ankur Singh, Founder and CEO Witzeal Technologies
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