NortonLifeLock has published the findings of a global study that sheds light on the cyber risks impacting the gaming community.
The 2021 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report: Special Release – Gaming & Cybercrime, conducted by The Harris Poll among more than 700 UK adults who currently play online games, found that over two in five UK gamers surveyed (42%) have experienced a cyberattack to their gaming account or device. Of those, nearly four in five surveyed (78%) report that they were financially affected as a result, losing an average of £145.
The study also uncovered surprising findings about gamer-to-gamer cyber risks and the great lengths gamers are willing to go to win. Over a quarter of British gamers surveyed (28%) are at least somewhat likely to hack into the gaming account of a friend, family member or romantic partner if they knew it would give them a competitive advantage in an online game. This sentiment is more pronounced among hardcore gamers, with nearly half of those surveyed (48%) saying they are at least somewhat likely, underscoring serious gamers’ tenacious determination to win.
“These findings are jarring, but there are some gamers out there that will do whatever it takes to win,” said BigCheeseKIT, gamer and Twitch streamer. “I’ve learned that when you’re gaming online, it’s so important to be mindful of who you are friends with online and what information you share when gaming online. While this is especially true for professional gamers who have that public profile, it’s clear this goes for any online gamer.”
The competitive drive extends across all types of gamers, from casual to hardcore gamers. If they knew it would secure a competitive advantage, close to half of UK gamers surveyed (43%) said they are at least somewhat likely to exploit a loophole or bug in a game and around one in three surveyed would install cheats to their gaming account or devices (34%), pay to take possession of another user’s gaming account (30%), or hack into the gaming account of a random player (29%).
“Scammers know that – for both experienced and casual gamers – cheats, skins and limited edition items are highly sought after,” said Armin Buescher, Technical Director at NortonLifeLock. “Offering these competitive boosts is a perfect opportunity to share malicious links or trick gamers into downloading malware that, if successful, can rob players of their gaming profile, personal information or more. Having security that specifically helps protect against these threats can give players peace of mind so they can focus on the enjoyment of the game itself.”
Additional findings from the study include:
- Over 2 in 5 gamers surveyed (42%) have experienced some form of attack to their gaming account. Common experiences include detecting malicious software on a gaming device (20%), having in-game digital currency, characters or other items stolen (12%), and detecting unauthorised access to an online gaming account (12%).
- Struggles with security basics. Many gamers in the UK admit to a number of risky online gaming habits, like using the same username (54%) password (46%) for more than one gaming account or device, using public Wi-Fi to play games online (38%), sharing personal information (e.g., names and birthdays) while playing a game online (37%), downloading a cheaper or free version of a game (29%) or downloading add-ons (e.g., characters, skins, etc.) (29%) from a website that was not associated with the game distributor.
- Doxxing isn’t uncommon. Among hardcore British gamers, nearly one in five surveyed (19%) have been doxxed, i.e., had their personal information stolen and shared publicly online.
- Gaming over everything. Whether casual or hardcore, gamers surveyed in the UK say they would rather spend time gaming than attend a sporting event or concert (72%), going on a date (72%), or reading a book (68%).
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