(WACO, Texas) – Garrett Lederman, of McGregor, has played online games for as long as he can remember.
“I typically play for a couple of hours a day during the week,” said Lederman, a second-semester Cybersecurity student at Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus. “I go crazy on the weekends, about four hours a day on Saturdays and also on Sundays.”
His favorite online games are those that involve fighting and shooting. As Lederman plays, he said he remembers to use two-factor authentication on gaming accounts and keeps operating systems updated.
“I have always tended to be safe, even as a kid,” Lederman said.
Beyond Identity, a technology company specializing in “passwordless” identity management, conducted a gaming and cybersecurity survey in 2022 that found that two out of three Americans who play video games have been hacked. The survey found that 86% of Xbox users have been hacked, while more than 50% of gamers have had their emails compromised. The survey also found that personal computer users have lost an average of $374 from hacking.
“On a general level, all the same rules for data privacy apply to gaming,” said Joshua Schier, a TSTC Cybersecurity instructor.
Some of the rules include using strong passwords, not using personal information in usernames, keeping antivirus software up to date and not clicking on links from unknown people.
Schier said some gamers using personal computers will do “modding,” which is taking the code of an online game and altering it in a way they want to play.
“If you modify the game, you can ruin it and keep it from working,” he said. “If you are downloading mods, be careful where you are getting mods from.”
Schier said people who want to play games on their phones should think twice before downloading.
“You have to be careful what apps you put on your phone,” he said. “They may be in your app store, but you need to look at that company and who they are before making that decision. A lot of people can put bad apps on an app store, and that can have an impact on the data that is retrieved and recorded and sent to another site.”
Parents should take charge of what kinds of online games their children are playing.
“You really have to take time to learn about the devices and how to control who has access to your children and have control over what they have access to,” Schier said. “You can set parental codes for children to do something after they have been given permission or a code entered.”
Some gamers like to chat as they play online games. There are dangers to this, Schier said.
“A random person can send you a message if you do not have your setting right on your consoles,” he said. “If they do not set it, anyone can send a private message or random message or a file. That is something to watch out for.”
Brian Ervin, of Georgetown, is a TSTC Electrical Construction, Energy Efficiency Specialist and Solar Energy Technology student scheduled to graduate in December. He is a member of the college’s Video Game Club. He began playing online games on his family’s computer when he was in elementary school.
Ervin said he uses voice chats to communicate with players while gaming. He recommended that gamers move to a different game or mute their consoles if the people they are playing with are asking questions deemed too personal.
Erwin said he is more of a casual gamer, often playing games focusing on open world exploration. He said he has not encountered security issues while gaming.
“I think every game I have played provides that sense that you are here to have fun,” he said.
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.