Gaming consoles and video games are always a popular gift over the festive period and this Christmas will be no different. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that many people have turned to gaming this year to connect with friends and family, make new friends and have fun. It is reported that the UK gaming population increased by 63% during lockdown, 18% of which is made up of 'covideogamers', individuals who are new to gaming as a result of the lockdown.
But, just like anything connected to the internet, it's important to remember that cyber criminals follow the numbers: the more we use a platform or console the more they will look to exploit it.
In November 2020, PlayStation and Xbox launched their latest consoles as well as a whole host of new and exciting games entering the market just in time for Christmas. With many avid gamers wanting to get their hands on the latest consoles and games we have, of course, seen an increase in gaming-themed phishing scams. Below is an example of a recent PlayStation 5 SMS phishing scam. Here the cyber criminals are using social engineering tricks to play on our emotions, with a sense of excitement and urgency to tempt us into engaging with the scam and clicking the link.
Remember that if you receive a communication that you’re not expecting (whether by WhatsApp, email, phone call, SMS message or any other way) that is asking you to do something and makes you feel emotional (rushed, happy, panicked, excited embarrassed or anything else), be aware this could be social engineering. Avoid clicking on any links and instead go directly to the source to see if they are running the competition or offer (for example, the retailer's website).
Our top tips for gaming securely are:
✅ When signing up to these platforms create a different username and avoid using any personal details in your usernames
✅ Use a password manager to help generate and store secure passwords
✅ Enable two-factor authentication on your gaming accounts and platforms
✅ For more information on password managers and two-factor authentication, check out our account security guidance here.
✅ Do not share your passwords or email address when connecting with people online
✅ Do not share personal information (such as your address) with people you're gaming with
✅ If you're setting up an account or game for your children, review the privacy settings
✅ Review in app purchases to check they're identifiable, particulary if young children are using the games