Gaming is serious business. No, really, it is- games nowadays are a multi-billion dollar, blockbuster industry, and there’s plenty of folks- particularly in Massively Multiplayer Online Games- that are willing to shell out enormous sums of money for the sake of getting ahead of their peers. It’s like any highly competitive world or hobby- there’s always a few folks willing to shell out some money to get ahead of the game; there’s always a few folks willing to cheat.
And there’s always people willing to accommodate them through their own illicit means, as well.
Gold Farming (where dummy accounts are created on an MMO for the express purpose of generating gold and then selling it off at a premium) is a multi-million dollar industry, and as with any digital realm, MMOs are rife with individuals looking to score a quick buck by stealing other peoples’ accounts, using them for their items, or their gold generation potential, or advertising.
They might want to sell it, too- there are people out there who are willing to pay thousands for a decked-out toon. It’s sad, but it’s true. Of course, in the worst case scenario, to gain access to the personal financial details of the account holder- that’s what you should truly be afraid of.
And now you see where I’m going with this senseless rambling, no?
There’s plenty of folks who don’t take the protection of their MMO account as seriously as, say, their finances. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a foolish thing indeed. You need to protect yourself on the ‘net, no matter where you happen to dwell- because believe me, losing an account, with all the countless hours of hard work you’ve put into your characters definitely won’t be as painful as having some unsavory individual get their hands on your personal finances. Failing to properly secure even a single account is like closing and locking every window in a house but one.
There’s a good chance that one open window might well be the one that thieves manage to force their way through.
Now, I’m not attempting to be a fearmongerer here, nor am I sensationalizing the issue. I’m merely cautioning about the dangers of failing to keep oneself safe- and offering some advice on how to do so:
1. Watch What You Download: Don’t download add-ons or mods for your MMO unless you can be absolutely certain they’re safe. If you’re not downloading them from a reputable source, they could well contain a whole plethora of unpleasant surprises- keylogging malware chief among them. If you’re not sure where to get an addon, take to the forum for your MMO- pretty much every game has one. Ask people there what they’d recommend, and go with their suggestion.
2. Keep your Password Close: There’s a reason employees never ask for your password or account details- they already have them. The most any staff member will ever ask you is for authentication information- and even then, they’ll almost never call or email you to request this information. If, for example, you call into Blizzard’s support line, and the agent asks you who your first pet was…chances are it’s a legitimate question, and you’re safe to answer. If, however, some random fellow calls you, or you receive an email telling you to log in to your account, and providing what appears to be a link to Blizzard’s site….
Don’t do it.
3. Secure Your Other Accounts: Do you have an email account linked to your MMO account? What about a social networking account? These other accounts need to be just as secure as your MMO account, or else all the work you’re doing on one end might as well be for naught.
4. Keep Your System Clean: Here’s a common-sense one. Regularly scan your computer for viruses, adware, and other malicious software. If you find some- and especially if you find a keylogger- change your password immediately after removing it, assuming it’s not too late already.
5. Use Additional Authentication: If there’s an authentication option available for your account, use it- that’s the rule I generally go by. Secret questions, mobile authentication, system recognition…anything you can do to make your account harder to gain access to for an outsider is a step in the right direction.
6. Use Our Secure Password Tips: Use a tool to help you keep a secure, complex password that’s difficult to crack. Don’t throw out a simple, easy-to-guess password, either.
That’s all for now. Next time, we’ll discuss what to do in the event that your account’s been compromised.
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