Lately, it seems every other week another gaming company has been hacked. When we play games online, the last thing we think about is how vulnerable the information is that we submit to create an account, play the game and interact with other users. We just want to have fun, we want to relax and we want to step away from the real world and into the virtual one for awhile. Sony, Steam, Gamigo and now Blizzard Entertainment has been hacked. While Mike Morhaime, the President of Blizzard Entertainment, has said no financial data has been breached in this attack, he is encouraging all users playing its variety of games change their passwords, security questions and answers to help ensure account safety.
How Was Blizzard Hacked
While the hacking details are rarely released, Blizzard has let its users know that e-mail addresses associated with its Battle.net’s account system outside of China were accessed. Additional information related to authenticators and personal security question answers were also discovered by the hackers. The cryptographic versions of passwords for Battle.net users were also accessed but since Blizzard utilizes an encryption protocol with them, it would take hackers some time to piece together what the live passwords would be.
All together, this information is not actually enough to hack a single Blizzard account but it is worrisome enough that users should change passwords, security questions and any other personal information they feel may be of threat.
Blizzard, and Morhaime, have stressed that since uncovering the details of the hacking attempts on August 4, 2012, that financial data from users was not breached.
In the mean time, Blizzard users have been encouraged to change passwords, security questions and answers as well updating their mobile authenticators to a new version just to be on the safe side.
You can read more about the details of the breach itself at Blizzard’s web site.
How to Protect Yourself When You Game Online
If you game online, whether your play a Blizzard game or another type, it is important to use a standalone e-mail address and password. This helps protect your primary identity online and keep it disassociated with any information a hacker could use to pinpoint more sensitive information of yours.
You can sign up for a free Gmail account, then set it up to forward to your primary e-mail account if you do not want to deal with logging into a separate e-mail address. While this is not the most secure way, it can work for some users.
From there, when you utilize a gaming account, use the newly created Gmail e-mail address you created for it. Then, make sure the password is something entirely different than anything else you use. This password should be complicated, nothing easy to guess and should not be in any way associated with any other password you use.
Some games, like Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, use an authenticator-style system to help further protect an account.
It costs less than $10, which Blizzard sells at cost, to help protect accounts. Whenever you login, or depending on your settings, you will use your e-mail address, password and be prompted for an authenticator code. This authenticator is synced to your Battle.net account, so if you do not have it on you – or a hacker does not have access to it – they cannot get logged into your account.
Depending on what games you play, take advantage of any additional security features they offer similar to Blizzard’s authenticator service.
In addition to ensuring your account is secure from the get go, you want to make sure you are only logging into your game from its official web site or through its client. Never click on links in an e-mail, go directly to the web site first. Then, login. This ensures you never click a phishing link which is the primary source of hacked gaming accounts online. You also never want to purchase items for the game through sites not associated with the game you are playing. This is yet another way you practically give away your e-mail address, password and other pertinent information about your identity.
Is Your Gaming Account Truly Safe?
Whenever you game online, just like with anything else you do on the Internet, there is a vulnerability involved. Nothing is foolproof and completely safe online, but when you take steps to make your identity and information safer, you make it much harder for even the most sophisticated hackers to getting to your data. By being vigilant about your e-mails, passwords and how you protect your gaming accounts, you can stay safe from threats you did not think would come from playing a game online.