Game over? It’s up to your password

People put a lot of time, effort, and money into the online games they love. And yet many of them don’t bother to protect their gaming accounts properly.

My fellow 90s gamers will remember LAN parties — the original connected gaming — and playing Counter-Strike and Half-Life in Internet cafés. For many, Counter-Strike was our introduction to multiplayer gaming. Then, in the early 2000s, a game called World of Warcraft changed everything.

I had never seen so many people on the same server before! It was a new world, with tons of strangers buying, talking, playing, and raiding with each other. Of course, like so many others, I trusted the wrong avatar and got robbed. But it really was a good time.

Back then, we didn’t have to remember different passwords for dozens of e-mail, social media, bank, and gaming accounts. It was pretty common to use the same password for all of them.

Fast-forward to this decade. Today, with ubiquitous and fast Internet connections, almost every game is online or at least has a multiplayer mode to test your skills and show off your abilities. Other things have evolved as well. Doing almost anything online, including gaming, requires creating accounts. And criminals have learned very well how to make money by gaining access to those accounts. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is our lazy and risky use of passwords.

We put so much effort, time, and focus into improving our gameplay. Along the line, as we level up, acquire in-game equipment and loot, and play better, faster, harder, our games gain a lot of value — they end up being worth far more than the price we paid to buy them. Once you understand the added value of gaming accounts, their appeal to criminals becomes crystal clear.

Gaming accounts have other uses to criminals as well. For starters, your account can be used to send phishing links to your friends. Friends know and trust each other, and they may click on links sent by friends without a second thought. And some of your friends might have valuable stuff in their accounts (and their friends might as well, and on and on).

Another use relies on the laziness principle I mentioned earlier. Even if you quit playing and have nothing at all in your account, if your login credentials are the same as the ones you use for your e-mail, social media, or even banking accounts, then your worthless gaming account will prove very valuable to a criminal.

To help gamers (and other account holders) of all stripes, Kaspersky Total Security includes Password Manager for convenient management of passwords — plus strengthening measures such as creating really strong random passwords and storing them safely both locally and in the cloud. That means you can have tons of unique, strong passwords and manage them easily on several devices.

In addition to using a password manager, keep your passwords completely private and change them regularly. It will help you protect your gaming accounts, which are valuable to you and to criminals, and the characters you’ve spent hundreds of hours evolving and nurturing.