As all varieties of online gaming become increasingly popular, it’s critical we understand how to keep ourselves safe online. In this article, we’ll explore eight ways to protect yourself in all kinds of online gaming environments, and then take a look at four specific precautions to take to help you find a safe online casino.
8 ways to stay safe in all types of online games
Use a strong password with a secure login system
When using any kind of online service that requires you to register an account, you will need to choose a strong password. Here are the characteristics of a strong password:
- It has a lot of characters
- It uses a mix of upper and lower-case letters, as well as symbols and numbers
- It doesn’t use commonly substituted characters, for example, changing hello to h3ll0
- It’s unique and not used on any other site
- It isn’t commonly used, such as 123456, qwerty, 11111, or password
However, a strong password is useless if a company’s login system isn’t secure. When signing in through a browser, such as Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Firefox, look for a lock symbol to the left of the address bar. This icon indicates that the site is using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) protocol to protect your communication. If there isn’t a lock, your communication isn’t encrypted and it might be possible for a third party to intercept it.
Both of these systems are equally useless if you share your password or leave it lying around on a piece of paper. Do not share your passwords with anyone, and if you must write your password down, keep it somewhere safe.
Find out how the game platform stores your information
Many online games store large amounts of your personal and financial data, which is why it’s important to confirm how this information is stored. Companies that are serious about security will ensure it’s encrypted, so even if a security breach takes place, your data will not be easily accessible.
However, you should make no assumptions about how companies are handling your data. For example, in 2011, the PlayStation Network service went offline after Sony discovered that approximately 77 million accounts had been hacked. It was later revealed that much of the stolen data was not encrypted, causing Sony’s reputation to take a massive hit.
Don’t give out personal information
Many online games allow players to communicate using text or voice chat, and you should remember to be careful with the kind of information you share over these channels. When anyone online asks for your name, your phone number, or any other kind of information that can help them identify you, it could be for malicious reasons. Remember, you’re talking to a stranger who might turn out to be an online bully, stalker or cyber-criminal.
Take advantage of the tools the game provides to keep yourself safe
Many sites give you the tools you need to increase your privacy when playing their games or using any of their services. Find out how to mute other players who are using text or voice chat, how to block people from your games, and how to manage your online status if you don’t always want people to know when you’re online.
Be careful when clicking links
Even if a website address appears legitimate, it could be designed to trick you. This fraudulent online activity, more commonly known as phishing, tries to fool a user into sharing confidential information such as usernames, passwords, or credit card numbers.
Ensure your device is up-to-date and protected
Whether you are using a mobile phone, laptop or desktop computer, you must make sure your device’s operating system (OS) and applications are fully up to date. Failure to apply updates often leaves security flaws open that could allow a hacker to access your machine.
Also, if you are concerned that someone using it may accidentally infect one of your devices, you may want to consider antivirus software as an additional layer of protection.
Ask about two-factor authentication
As hackers grow increasingly advanced, so do the tools that guard against them. Online gaming services are increasingly taking advantage of two-factor authentication (2FA) to verify a player’s identity before they can access their accounts.
In order to log into a service that uses 2FA, the player must provide a username and password, as well as a randomly generated code. This randomly generated code is supplied by an additional device, such as an RSA token, and must be entered during the login process. Without access to the code, you (or a hacker) will be unable to access your account.
Set a budget
Whether you enjoy free-to-play mobile or PC games that offer in-game purchases or like to place the occasional bet online, it’s important to manage your spending. Some online games and casinos will offer you tools to ensure you stick to your budget.
For example, some free-to-play games allow you to set a limit on the amount of money you can spend, while some online casinos also offer what is known as a “time-out” system. If a casino has a time-out service, you can set a limit to the amount of money (or time) which you can spend at the online casino. After you reach this limit, the online casino will give you a time-out, during which you cannot deposit, withdraw or place bets.
4 ways to stay safe when playing at online casino sites
Choose a reputable site
Use these criteria to assess the reputation of an online casino before you hand over your hard-earned money:
- They are legal and licensed in your region
- Their software is reliable and receives regular updates
- Deposit and payout processes are transparent and quick
- Customer support is available 24 hours a day across multiple channels, including live chat, email, and voice calls
- Check out online casino reviews, social media channels like Twitter, or forums like Reddit to find out more about the casino
Pick an online casino that asks for ID
To prevent any risk of fraud, many online casinos are taking steps to verify the identity of players who register for their service, make deposits or claim payouts. Depending on where the casino is based, they may ask for a driver’s license, passport or some other form of official identity documentation. In addition to this, players will often be asked to provide proof of residence, such as a utility bill, to verify their address.
Are they endorsed by a celebrity, pro player, or community-focused website?
Celebrities and pro players are very aware of how a bad endorsement can hurt their brand. To ensure their reputation remains valuable, they will (usually) only endorse trustworthy companies or products. Similarly, respected community-focused sites will likely also take steps to ensure that an online casino is running a respectable operation before giving it their stamp of approval.
That being said, sometimes an endorsement is not always above board, or the endorser might not be aware of any issues happening behind the scenes. Players should always check multiple sources to verify any information being shared is true, false, or basically just paid advertising.
Read the fine print
This is something everyone should do, although the majority of people avoid it. Whether you’re installing a new media player on your phone, signing a new retirement plan with a financial provider, or registering with an online casino, many people simply skip over the details and “sign on the bottom line”. As painful as it may be, read the details of any legal agreement to ensure that you don’t find yourself without any legal protection later.
Enjoy a safe gaming experience online
Whether you’re looking for the latest online video game, or you prefer to play online poker and online casino slot games, you undoubtedly want a service you can trust. Using these criteria, you can choose the best gaming experience or online casino that’s right for you.