Cybersecurity in the gaming industry

Cybersecurity in the gaming industry
The Siliconreview
03 June, 2021

Now that so much of the gaming industry has moved online, cybersecurity has become even more important. Ocean’s 11 (2001) may have included a small amount of hacking to disable security camera feeds and alarm systems, but it was still largely a physical heist. Things have certainly changed in the last 20 years!

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000-2015), set in Las Vegas, might be the most famous television series to deal with crime in and around the gaming industry. However, its spinoff, CSI: Cyber (2015-2016) is the show that actually deals with the types of crime that are becoming increasingly prevalent as the internet becomes the main mode of communication, entertainment and finance.

While some argue that fighting cybercrime should be the job of AI and automated systems because they can monitor more data at once, there will always need to be people involved to keep the system one step ahead of the cyber criminals. As the gaming industry continues to grow online, the need for strong cybersecurity continues to grow alongside it.

Types of cybercrime

There are many different types of cybercrime. The most common is identity fraud, which is often done through either hacking databases or through email phishing scams. Scammers will use emails that resemble legitimate companies in order to steal your banking details or other personal information. Another very serious form of cybercrime is the theft of banking or payment details. Again, this is often done by hacking into a company’s records or by targeting individuals. Blackmail, also known as cyberextortion, can include ransomware attacks, but thankfully is less common in the gaming industry. Doxxing, however, is a serious problem within the world of video gaming. Doxxing is when a person’s private information is made public, often for the purpose of harassment. It is linked with swatting, where address details are given to law enforcement who are told that a crime is in progress.

Online casinos

Online casino gaming has been a growing industry for years, but 2020 saw a big spike in its popularity as many real world pastimes were shut down. Any industry that has high revenues is going to be a target for criminals. Online casinos like New Zealand casino SkyCity have to be extra careful with their cybersecurity because they have to protect both themselves and their clients from cyber threats. A traditional heist would primarily target only the casino’s cash reserves, whereas a modern cyberheist could also target the online casino’s clients’ personal data.

According to recent reports, the biggest threat to online casino cybersecurity at the moment is hacking. Interestingly, this is primarily in the form of targeted attacks on databases and source code. This shows that more than money is at risk from cybercriminals. Another big threat is ransomware, which prevents the company from accessing its databases. Luckily, the number of specialised cybersecurity companies has grown and they are capable of addressing these threats quickly. For example, last year’s ransomware attack on SBTech, a sports betting company affiliated with DraftKings, temporarily shut down their website but their security improvements prevented any breach of their databases. Hopefully, these improvements in cybersecurity will be able to keep pace with the always-innovative hackers.

Video games

Video gaming is another big target for cybercriminals. These days, most console games and mobile games offer in-game purchases, which means that most gamers have a credit card or bank account linked to their gaming accounts. This makes gaming and gamers a prime target for scammers and hackers. Mobile games are an extra popular target as cybersecurity for mobile games is not as advanced as it is for console or PC games. However, as the mobile game market continues to grow, it is likely that specialised cybersecurity firms and programs will join the market.

Doxxing is a very serious problem in the gaming world. Swatting is a form a doxxing where the police are called to the targeted gamer’s house with false reports of violence or threats. Swatting has resulted in several serious injuries and deaths and keeps police busy so they cannot help with real emergencies. It is a frightening form of cybercrime. The best defence against this is to protect your information online and not share personal details.

Now that the online world is just as busy as the real-life one, cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important. Companies, especially those that have a significant percentage of their business online — like the gaming industry — need to make cybersecurity a priority.