Playing computer games online can be fun, but what are the risks

Online gaming is becoming a global phenomenon. With the new batch of web enabled next generation consoles and phones, what are the risks they pose to gamers.

spy graphic1. Many gamers expect users to create online profiles which may contain sensitive information including names, email addresses, house addresses, phone numbers etc. Make sure this information is kept private and is not available online for other users to access.

2. If you do use the chat facility available within an online game make sure you do not give away your username and password or other information, even if you do regard the other gamers as friends.

3. If you have to download cheats for your games ensure they come from a reputable source as some files may contain viruses or spyware.

4. Many new multiplayer games such as Second Life, trade in their own currency, which can be bough and sold for real world currency. This has created a whole new trading system for virtual goods and property. Criminals are aware of this and operate within virtual worlds and perform scams, as they would in the real world. Just because it is a virtual world that gamers are involved in they must still use their wits and keep their eyes open, just as if they were in the real world.

5. As with all other forms of registration for banking and other sites, it’s important to use strong passwords for online gaming. It is also important to select a username and password which does not reveal anything about you as an individual and is not tied to any other username and password used for other sites. If your password falls into the wrong hands and is used for any other sites, this can give criminals access to any other accounts you may have registered for. All too often many internet users are lazy and use the same username and password to access various sites. Criminals use this to their advantage, if you fall prey to their tactics.

6. Since many gamers are young children who may not be as worldly wise, more open and social than their adult counterparts, it’s important to make them aware of all the information above and to keep a close eye on their online gaming habits. Many children may be unaware of how costly it is to pass on sensitive information to complete strangers within a virtual world, and need to be educated into the potential pitfalls they can be exposed to.