Online Gaming and Identity Theft

Millions of people play online games everyday. While the most popular are MMORPGs, there are also many other genres that are popular online. Considering the amount of information that typically has to be shared to make an account on one of these games, there are some people that are worried about the potential for identity theft. Is this threat a reality, or is it being inflated? Read on and find out.

Making an Account
Most online games, except for the many free Flash games, require at least some information before you can make an account. They require the player’s name, email address and maybe their address and phone number. Other games require a credit card for monthly billing, and this means that you are sharing even more sensitive data.

Brute Force Hacking
When you share sensitive information with an online game, that information is stored within a secure server. While the server is secure, and there are countless employees and programs monitoring the access of this information, there is no system that is completely free from hacking.

In the worst-case scenario, a hacker can enter the system and steal your identity. This means that they can get your credit card number, and all the other information needed to start using it. However, as stated before, these servers are secure, and most online games know how much security is needed to prevent these attacks. There are very few instances of hackers stealing this information, and the online game creators will typically warn players as soon as they discover the leaked information.

Social Engineering
Hacking a game server isn’t easy, so most hackers use the social engineering route. They will ask players for their username and password, and in exchange they might promise to give them powerful items, free gold or some other special item. Some hackers even act like game moderators, and they may tell players that their account will be deleted unless they verify their information.

Players ignorant to this practice, and those that are new to online games, often fall prey to this. However, most online games will display warning messages stating that moderators will never ask for this information. This can typically be seen on loading screens, and it might randomly appear during play. So, if you know about this social engineering, then it won’t work on you and hackers won’t be able to steal your information.

Third-Party Sellers
There are a lot of items to be found in am MMORPG. For example, World of Warcraft has hundreds of different sword items alone, and many players don’t want to go through 5-hour raids to get them. So, they go to third-party websites that are selling these items.

Most online games warn about these third-party sites. Normally it’s because they don’t want to lose money by you buying items from another seller, but they are also worried about your safety. Many of these third-party websites don’t have the same amount of security as the online game itself, or they may intentionally steal your data once you input it.

If you are going to buy from a third-party, then make sure that the seller is secure and safe.

Game Cards
As stated above, hackers might be able to get into your account and steal your credit card information. There is no way to stop the hacker from your end, but you might be able to stop the credit card theft. Many popular online games offer game cards that you can buy with cash from retail stores.

If you buy these cards and use them for your monthly subscription, then your credit card numbers won’t be saved on the game’s server. This means that they will get your name and other information, but not the credit card.

So, is identity theft a potential problem with online games? Yes, it is. However, you can often combat this by paying attention to the game creator’s messages, and by not falling for social engineering scams. If you just pay attention to who you are buying from and what information you are sharing, then you should have no problems with security.


About the Author - Katelyn writes for Flame Virus, a product, which helps protect users websites from spamers.