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Electronic sports, popularly known as esports is a competitive form of gaming facilitated by electronic systems such as PCs, gaming consoles, and mobile phones. Esports players play video games online competitively in tournaments, esports leagues, etc. But there is one huge challenge affecting the esports industry. With revenues exceeding $1 billion and audiences of more than 400 million across the globe, the esports industry is a prime target for hackers and other online adversaries.
Common Cybersecurity Threat in Esports
Like any other sporting activity, the vast majority of participants in esports are not professional players. They are fans. They play for the love of the game. Esports fans can stream live events on services such as Twitch and YouTube. There are millions of esports fans across the world which makes esports platforms a lucrative target for hackers. Here are some of the most common cyber risks faced by esports players and fans.
- Ransomware. Hackers can attack esports players with ransomware designed to disrupt their gameplay by locking up their game files and keeping them from participating in upcoming matches and tournaments. In a ransomware attack, hackers will lock your computer files and demand payment in exchange for the decryption key.
- Data Breaches. Data breaches targeting esports players are common. Esports fans are a huge target for hackers. Esports platforms attract large crowds who bring their smartphones, tablets, and computers with them. A large group of esports fans, all at once and some connected to unsecured networks, is an appealing target for cybercriminals.
- DDoS Attacks. A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack occurs when hackers attempt to crash an online system, such as a web server, by overwhelming it with traffic. The objective is to make the target website inaccessible. A DDoS attack in online gaming will slow down connections and cause lagging.
Fans, players, and gaming platforms are all vulnerable to these and other attacks. No one is safe. But that does not mean that gaming enthusiasts should stay away from esports. The good news is that there are steps esports players and fans can take to reduce the risk of an attack. Here are a few tips to help players and fans remain safe on esports platforms.
Use Antivirus Software
The threat of targeted malware is very real in esports. These attacks can take any form, from sophisticated ransomware attacks to phishing. They could also use keyloggers to steal your login credentials and compromise your accounts. Using a trusted antivirus software with real-time protection can help you protect against malware threats. Be wary of official-looking phone calls, text messages, and emails that ask for sensitive information.
Install a VPN
As an online gamer, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is one of the best tools to have in your cybersecurity toolkit. A VPN helps keep your online activity private and anonymous. A VPN will also reduce ping times (which increases game responsiveness) and enhance your protection against DDoS attacks when playing online video games. A VPN for gamers will protect your data and help you stay safe from a myriad of cyber threats on esports platforms.
Keep Your System Up to Date
Cyber attackers often use exploits to take control of your system and steal sensitive personal data such as financial information. Developers release updates to patch potential vulnerabilities and make it difficult for attackers to gain access to your PC. Keep your system up to date (both your gaming software and antivirus programs) to defend against these threats. Updating your system ensures that you are at par with the latest industry standards and safe from most cyberattacks.
In the past few years, the esports industry has seen tremendous growth. As you know, cybercriminals will always follow the money. There’s a lot of money in the esports industry, which puts a big target on the backs of esports players and fans across the world. No one is safe from cybercriminals in online competitive gaming. Players and fans should take the necessary security measures to safeguard against cyberattacks on esports platforms.