How to level up your cyber safety while online gaming

When it comes to online gaming, the real villains that you’re up against aren’t giant turtles, wizards or even corrupt robots – they’re cyber criminals. That’s why the most important thing to protect (outside of your high score, of course) is your sensitive information.

Whether you’re a total newbie to online gaming or a pro when it comes to button mashing, we’ve compiled a list of simple steps to take your online safety to the next level.

Step one: Setting up

Whether you’re using a console, phone or tablet, finding games is easy - just check the official app store on your device. Before purchasing or downloading, double check that you’re buying the official game and not a fake version. Using the verified game or application store on your device and reading the reviews will give you a good sense of its legitimacy. You can also buy physical copies of games for your console from well-known game and department stores if you have limited storage space.

If you’re on a computer, the way to download games is slightly different. Most games are supported through using game distribution platforms. These platforms are used to buy, download, store and run games on. Ensure you‘re using a verified game distribution platform that is well known and supported by legitimate gaming organizations. Avoid sites selling “game keys” as these are often obtained illegally and are not guaranteed to work once you buy them.

If you’re using a game distribution platform for the first time, you’ll need to create an account. Make sure you choose a username that doesn’t include any personal information, like your full name, since it can be openly visible on the platform. And make sure to secure your account with a unique and complex password to protect your account from hackers.

Step two: Getting into the game

Before launching your new game, double-check that it’s updated to the latest version. Check for updates in the app store on your phone or tablet or on the gaming platform on your console or computer. You should also update the device you’re playing on. Updates can include security patches and fix programming vulnerabilities that could put you at risk. And if you’re playing on the computer, it’s best to have an updated anti-virus program and firewall installed too.

On mobile devices, some games might ask for access to your social media accounts for additional permissions from your device. It’s important to go over each of these requests carefully and disable any permissions the game doesn’t really need, like access to your camera or contacts.

Step three: Making connections

Once you’re securely in your game, you can finally connect with family and friends to play. There are lots of options available for in-game communication. On a console, these features are built right in, so you just need to add your friends to get started.

On a phone or computer, though, you have options. Some games come with an in-game chat feature. If you’re on a computer, some game distribution platforms have their own chat features available. Alternatively, you can also choose to use a third-party voice or messaging platform while you play the game.

Some games are better in numbers. If you decide to open the game up to other players outside your family and friends while you’re gaming, be careful. Game chats are a common place cyber criminals use to distribute malicious links containing malware or phishing messages offering free in-game currency or items to steal your money or personal information. Always be on the lookout for signs of phishing when you’re chatting with other users.

No matter how you choose to chat, be careful not to share any sensitive information in gaming, console or third-party chat rooms.


Online gaming is a great way to pass the time with friends, family or on your own. By taking small steps to make sure you’re downloading your games from a legitimate source, updating your devices to avoid vulnerabilities and learning how to spot the signs of a phishing message in whatever chat platform you may use, you’ll be well on your way to levelling the playing field against cyber criminals.

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