Online Gaming Privacy & VPNs Checklist

While adults and children play online games, the privacy of their online information is probably the furthest thing from their minds. Gamers typically are not aware of the amount or the significance of the details that they are disclosing or making available during their online gaming sessions and conversations.

The following checklist should be used by adults and parents who want to better safeguard the information potentially disclosable by their children or themselves.

What sorts of games are played?

The interaction levels among online games is an important fact to consider. Causal games, single-player games (such as platformers), sports games and First-Person Shooter (FPS) games tend to have low levels of interaction between players. Whereas Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) and Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games tend to have much higher levels of player interaction. 

What gaming platforms are used?

Online console games are at an advantage over PC games when online privacy is considered. Consoles usually come with in-built communication platforms straight out of the box. There is practically no worry of a player’s data being exposed through a third-party communication platform. 

All aspects of the communication are closely connected to a player’s paid account, and other, non-gaming accounts can be tied to a player’s console account. Tripwire notes that keeping track of what accounts a player’s data is associated with is pivotal to safeguarding it.

Is the player’s in-game name tied to the player’s online username?

Most games provide players an in-game name that is distinct from a player’s username. Some will simply take the player’s username and then display it to everyone as the player’s in-game name. 

Some players use the same online persona across different communication mediums such as online forums and message boards. Gamers should keep track of what usernames and in-game names are used by them and what information they’ve shared using those names.

What are some worries about identity theft and hacked gaming accounts?

Cybercriminals can easily profit from stealing information and account access from gamers. These cyber thieves use surveys, downloaded files, and clickable ads to hack into oblivious players’ accounts. As Trend Micro remarks, a hacker can sell off any number of game characters, online accounts and in-game items. These same hackers could make unauthorized in-game purchases using an account-linked credit card, or even hold the account hostage for a hefty ransom. Gamers may have spent many in-game hours and real money to gain powerful virtual items such as weapons or gear, but a hacker could these same items for a lucrative, ill-gotten return, typically cash.

Where is the online game’s privacy policy?

When registering for an online gaming service, it will typically ask a player to create a profile. This means providing some basic information, personal preferences and giving consent for the service to collect and store some types of the player’s information. The Privacy Commissioner of Canada points out that the service’s privacy policy can inform gamers of the sorts of information collected by the gaming service, what the information will be used for, where it is transmitted and who the player can reach out to if they have questions or concerns.

Should service providers like NordVPN be used for online gaming?

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) provide several benefits to online gamers. VPNs like NordVPN allow gamers to evade geo-blocking attempts when it comes to regional content and release dates as well as accessing all versions of a game. These networks can protect gamers from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks which could disconnect them from the gaming service and gaming experience. Though connection speeds will likely drop while the game works through the VPN, this site notes that the connection drop using NordVPN is pretty much negligible.

What do gamers display while streaming their games?

Gamers should take note of their streaming setup. It’s better to only display a subset of a gaming screen as opposed to the full screen. Prevent pop-ups and background images from appearing as best as possible. Lastly, consider purchasing a backdrop that can disguise the gamer’s actual background.

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