If you’re not a gamer, video game speak can sound like a foreign language, so fair warning: This article is full of references to a few of our favourite games. Whether you get the references or not, the cyber security advice attached to them applies to everyone. If in doubt, reach out to the gamer in your life. Who knows — you might just find yourself with a new hobby.
Few activities are as fun as playing video games. But nothing is as fun as defeating an evil villain in a game you’ve spent hours playing.
Video game stories are littered with dastardly, conniving evil-doers – all of whom share much in common with cyber criminals and the threats they pose.
That’s why, to better explain the risk that cyber threats pose, we asked: What if video game villains were cyber threats?
Bowser from Super Mario = Malware
Bowser is the original video game villain. Spike-shelled, imposing frame, menacing look on his face – you can tell how evil he is just by looking at him.
And that’s to say nothing of his evil actions. Bowser spends his days attempting to kidnap Princess Peach, defeat Mario and conquer the Mushroom Kingdom.
Pretty evil, right?
Fortunately, though, Bowser is just a fictional character. Unfortunately, he has a real-life equivalent: Cyber criminals trying to infect your devices with malware.
Just as Bowser is always trying to infiltrate and cause havoc in the idyllic Mushroom Kingdom, malware is an attempt from cyber criminals to take over or damage a computer system without the owner’s consent.
This could include sending emails on your behalf or stealing sensitive information from you.
In the video game world, Super Mario and other heroes always seem to save the day. But you don’t need a real-life version of your favourite video game character to protect you from malware.
One of the best ways to prevent malware infections is to be cautious when opening attachments or downloading apps and other software. Always make sure you’re downloading from a trusted source.
Anti-virus software is another tool you should use to protect yourself from malware. There are a number of free and paid options from trusted vendors available.
The Sims burglar = Hacking
You’ve built the perfect life for your little Sims. Then, all of a sudden, someone comes along to ruin it all.
The burglar in the Sims is your worst nightmare. He comes in the night, while your precious Sims are sleeping, to steal their stuff.
Hacking, in the world of cyber security, is pretty similar. Cyber criminals can hack into your device to take control of it and steal your information.
In the game, you can prevent hacking by being vigilant and installing a burglar alarm.
You can protect yourself, and your devices, from hacking by protecting them with a passcode or PIN, installing anti-virus software, running security updates and patches on your device and applications, and steering clear of suspicious emails or text messages. .
GLaDOS from Portal = Phishing
Have you ever wanted to have your cake and eat it, too? That’s GLaDOS’ recurring promise to you in Portal. “Jump through these hoops and solve this puzzle, silly human. I’ll reward you with cake at the end of it.” But as all true Portal fans know: the cake is a LIE.
GLaDOS spends much of the game taunting and promising you with the allure of cake, all the while collecting data on you and monitoring how you’re completing the test chambers.
And if all this sounds frighteningly similar to the act of phishing, you wouldn’t be wrong.
Phishing is a common tactic that cyber criminals use to trick you into giving up sensitive information. It often takes the form of emails but can also be sent as text messages or phone calls. These messages are made to look like they’re from real companies and use creative tactics to steal information from you. These messages may also make alluring promises of prizes.
The best way to stay safe from cyber criminals (and unhinged video game villains) is to always be cautious when suspicious messages are sent your way. Don’t click any links to contests that you didn’t sign up for and ensure that you don’t relinquish your personal information if an email seems suspicious.
Bonus villain: The dog from Duck Hunt = Spoofing
OK, OK. We know that the dog from Duck Hunt isn’t technically a villain in the same way the other characters we’ve just mentioned are.
In fact, the dog from Duck Hunt is supposed to be there to help you pick up all the ducks you’ve killed.
If you consider your hunting buddy who only comes around to laugh at you when you miss your shot a villain, then we suppose he could be one.
The dog from Duck Hunt is kind of like spoofing. The dog pretends to be a helpful friend but in fact is rooting for you to mess up!
Spoofing is when a cyber criminal creates a fake website that looks like it comes from a legitimate company or individual. Actually, though, it’s designed to trick the victim into giving up information they otherwise wouldn’t part with.
Just like the dog from Duck Hunt: It wants to appear as though it is there to help you but is, in fact, a trick designed to frustrate you and ruin your plans.
Don’t become a victim!
Video games are fun. Cyber threats aren’t. Be the hero of your real life attempts to combat cyber criminals and follow the best practices when it comes to preventing cyber threats.