As the Esports industry grows and attracts more investment, so does the interest from the criminal cyberspace. As it has been reported by various industry experts that professional esports gamers and teams are being increasingly targeted by cybercriminals.

In the past few months, there have been incidents of high-level coordinated attacks targeting some of the biggest gaming and esports establishments such as Codemasters, EA Sports, and individual players. Not much is being done in terms of helping gamers and fans to protect themselves. Consequently, gamers and fans are most likely going to fall victim to these common and preventable attacks:

Account theft- Weak or reused passwords

It’s very common to find esports gamers complaining about losing their online accounts on platforms such as Steam and PSN to hackers. This usually happens if a hacker, by chance or intentionally, gains access to their passwords. For instance, you probably use a weak password or reuse it on multiple signup forms across the web.

Sometimes, it’s a problem with the platform itself.  For instance, a platform hack like the 2016 SteamStealer hacking spree can expose user passwords and account information.  You can’t do much about such, but changing your passwords regularly might help.

Ransomware, viruses, and malware

Gamers can sometimes be careless internet users. They may download files from grey sites, install tons of apps on the computers. This is why they are also quite vulnerable to ransomware and malware attacks if not well protected.

Phishing and scamming

Phishing is one of the oldest attack methods that are surprisingly still being used to this day. Phishing normally happens if an attacker conducts a successful OSINT operation on a targeted high-value esports star. They are then able to gain access to their data, such as contacts, email addresses, routine correspondence, social media activity, etc. 

With the above information, an attacker will be able to carry out a very effective phishing attack on their targeted gamer, pretending to be family members, lawyers, co-workers, or trusted contacts. It’s tough to detect some of these attacks, leaving you with only a few options to protect yourself, as will be discussed next.

Three simple ways for players and fans to protect themselves 

1. Protect your data and communications with a VPN

Using a VPN is an effective way to protect yourself from many of the attacks that come your way. Using a VPN for gaming ensures that your data is encrypted and passed through secure tunnels at all times. This means hackers will have a hard time trying to hack into your internet activity or conduct an OSINT investigation on you. 

2. Invest in cybersecurity software/hardware

Depending on your current setup and needs, you should seriously think about buying corporate-level security protection. For instance, you might want to install a physical firewall device on your network if you are a serious esports gamer with money and valuable gaming accounts. Not to mention that you also need to have the basics, such as an up-to-date antivirus, updated operating systems, and the latest firmware updates for your network devices.

3. Change your internet habits

A majority of esports gamers and fans are believed to be young people either in their teens or early twenties. This means they still have a very casual approach to privacy and how they use the internet. It’s important to know that your online habits will be the number one vulnerability exploited by experienced hackers.

Avoid unsecured sites, don’t download pirated content, and be careful about the people you interact with online. By changing your internet habits, you will be safe from most of the most common cyber-attacks out there.