Education / Article

Keep an eye on your little gamers. The online dangers you might not know of

Is your kid sitting in front of the computer all day, fully absorbed by some first-person shooter or other popular game? You should know that even while playing, your kid could become a target of cybercriminals. And all that thanks to the lure of online accounts stuffed with (possibly your own) credit card details and other information that can be monetized.

The fact that your kid is only using secured gaming platforms like Steam marketplace just does not cut it. You daughter or son can still be duped by small-scale scams such as infected screensaver files or “cheats” poisoned by malware.

This applies to the gaming fora as well. It is only natural that your child will be turning for advice to more experienced players, instead of own parents. Yet, some of the threads can be full of trick advice, and in-game chat channels play host to predators waiting for that click on a ‘bad’ link that infects a device.

When it comes to these risks, parents aren’t completely powerless. There are a few good security tips, you can offer your little gamer and help him or her to stay out of trouble.

1. A security solution

Vergewissern Sie sich, dass Ihre Geräte topaktuell sind, das heißt, alle verfügbaren Updates von Betriebssystem und Sicherheitssoftware aktiviert sind. Dies gilt nicht nur für Computer, sondern auch für Smartphones und Tablets.

2. Toughen up the browser

Warnen Sie Ihre Kinder vor sogenannten Cheats und gecrackten Versionen. Auch (oder erst recht) wenn sie billiger oder kostenlos sind, die meisten enthalten Trojaner oder andere Formen von Viren, die die Rechner der Kids infizieren. Bieten Sie Ihrem Nachwuchs an, sich an der Originalversion des Lieblingsspiels mit ein paar Euro zu beteiligen. Sie sind es wert, wenn damit das Risiko minimiert wird.

3. Credentials are valuable

Installieren Sie eine Kinderschutz-App wie die ESET Parental Control für Android. Sie gibt Ihnen die Möglichkeit, ein wachsames Auge auf die Online-Aktivitäten zu haben und Grenzen zu setzen, hilft aber auch Ihren Sprösslingen beim Einstieg und bei der Navigation durch das Internet. Anhand altersgerechter Filter bleiben unangemessene Inhalte fern und die Kids können ohne Bedenken surfen und spielen.

4. Don’t trade game code online

Und wie immer gilt: Suchen Sie regelmäßig das Gespräch mit Ihren Schützlingen. Zeigen Sie auf, dass nicht jeder ein Freund ist, nur weil man ihn aus Online- oder Spielforen kennt. Am besten zocken Ihre Kids nur gegen ihre Freunde aus der realen Welt. Ist dies nicht möglich, bringen Sie Ihnen eine gesunde Skepsis gegenüber Fremden bei und bieten Sie Ihre Unterstützung an, sollten sie verdächtige Anfragen nach Nacktbildern oder Angebote für Sexting erhalten.

5. Public gaming

Does your child have higher ambitions and likes e-sports and gaming competitions? Be sure, he/she knows how to act when connecting to public Wi-Fi. ESET Security Specialist Mark James says that it’s key that kids are aware they are playing on a public network – with all the risks it entails.

“If your kids are going to a gaming event or even a social gaming event, they should change their usual password for a temporary one while there, then back to the usual one when back home,” says James. “This protects them from scammers who might intercept their data and use it to steal their account – or against someone looking over their shoulder to nick their password.”

6. Help them pick the right username

This is especially important for children – as having a name that gives away that someone is young, can attract unwanted attention.

For a gamer it is wise to choose a tag, in-game name or forum alias that gives away absolutely no personal information – game accounts are high-value targets for cybercriminals and if they can fill in the blanks by Googling once your kid has given them his or her name, their account might be at risk.

7. Cheats and hacks are even worse than you think

Cheating is bad and it basically makes any competition unfair.  It’s what most parents teach their children since day one. This applies in particular to the gaming world.

Using cheats or hacks might not only mean risking a lifetime ban from a game your little player loves − it also puts his or her account at risk. Needless to say, up to 90% of the commonly-traded cheats are infected with some form of malware or adware, according to some estimates – they’re called ‘hacks’ for a reason.

8. Don’t befriend people on Facebook to get game ‘freebies’

Children often get sucked into playing Facebook games where they rely on topping up energy or trading with friends. They have to be careful though. Bringing in some new friends just to get extra game codes might get them in trouble.

Fan sites are full of people offering to befriend anybody for just that purpose – and it can speed up the game experience – but it leaves children with “friends” who they actually do not know. That means that even private information shown to ‘Friends Only’ on Facebook is available to people who might well be criminals, looking for information to complete the ID theft.

9. People on fora are not your friends

Gamer fora are pretty savage, hostile places at best – and when it comes to scams, add-ons, mods or anything out there, they are an unsavory place for a child to find advice. The same goes for in-game chat channels. You and your kids actually don’t know these people – so why trust them?

10. Limit game time

For a safe online experience, keep track of how much time your kids spent on their devices playing. ESET Parental Control for Android allows you to limit their online and gaming time, helps you find out what they are up to when in the cyberspace, as well as block websites with inappropriate content. Uniquely, it also gives voice to kids making them able to ask for permission to play or browse longer.

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