Gaming the system

Game on: Matt Horan of cyber-security company C3IA Solutions is warning about the vulnerabilities of gaming platforms

A leading cyber-security expert is warning gamers and their parents to be aware of the risks involved using popular consuls.

Matt Horan, security director of C3IA Solutions, said gaming could be the next big victim of organised hacking campaigns.

With many people expecting to receive a consul this Christmas, hackers will be poised.

The huge rise in network gaming – in which players compete across cyberspace – has increased the opportunities for malevolent interference.

Once, it was assumed most gaming hackers did so in order to win games, but now their motivation is likely to be for profit, or even child grooming.

Matt Horan, of the cyber-security firm headquartered in Poole, Dorset, said: “As we know, the day of playing on an X-Box or PlayStation directly connected to your TV is long gone.

“Gamers are using technology and servers that no longer work in isolation; it is all about networked gaming – my grandson does it he is seven!

“Security has not been embedded into many gaming platforms due to the need to share information and also the need for high processing speeds and graphics.

“Three quarters of gamers worry about the security of their platforms, but more than 50 per cent of them re-use passwords across multiple gaming accounts. On average, each gamer has experienced five cyber-attacks.

“Accounts with large amounts of in-game currency – credits that you build up by completing various stages, or access to rare, prestigious in-game items – can, if stolen, fetch high real-world prices.

“Online and mobile gaming platforms gather a large amount of data about their users, some of it game related and some more personal.

“The more personal the data, the more valuable it is to hackers – and mobile games often track such intimate information as location, their engagement, and even phone calls.

“There are things you can do to minimise the risk; be phishing aware – look for fake sites and emails; use different passwords or passphrases for each game; use a good antivirus product that supports gaming; if enabled, use the multi-factor authentication; ideally select a gaming vendor that has security at the front of its services with credible certifications that it openly advertises.

“Furthermore, parents can assist by making these risks clear to their children who might be using their first gaming consul.

“Gaming is a huge industry now and has successfully moved into the ‘sports’ sector with international competitions and big sponsorship deals.

“Hackers will see the money involved and know that there are rich pickings to be had.

“Mobile gaming has also grown rapidly and this too opens new areas for hackers to exploit.”

The gaming industry is worth an estimated £115 billion worldwide with almost half of that from mobile games.