Online fraud has unfortunately become a reality in our modern world. If you’re not familiar with the internet, you could imagine that hackers prefer to acquire personal information through sophisticated intrusion tactics involving complex code. Despite the different methods used by cyber thieves, experts feel that phishing scams are one of the most common due to their ease of use.
A scammer only requires an email address to launch a phishing assault, and because the technique is designed to deceive naïve victims by exploiting their confidence in authority, these attacks are simple to fall prey to for someone who is unprepared. Phishing schemes are especially insidious in online gaming communities because the communities are typically packed with younger prey who may not know any better.
Scammers love to target the online gaming community, not only because they have a lot of teenagers who aren’t aware of the hazards of phishing attempts, but also because they frequently have accounts linked to credit card information, making them easy targets for identity theft.
Many accounts also have a large number of virtual assets that have real-world worth attached to them. Scammers can swap a player’s valuables and virtual goods for cash by getting access to their gaming accounts.
Despite the fact that online gaming accounts for only 1.31 percent of total phishing attacks, there is still a substantial risk because the global number of phishing attempts is high. Furthermore, because many teenagers use the same login credentials across the internet, phishing a player’s gaming account might give phishers access to all of their other accounts.
If your child enjoys playing online games, you’ll want to keep them safe from these scams. The best approach to achieve this goal is to educate yourself (and your children) on how to recognize and avoid phishing. The following is a list of safety methods you can use.
1. Know how to Spot Phishing Attempts
You should discuss with your children how they can recognize impending attacks. If they can learn to recognize a scam, they will be able to avoid falling victim to one and the consequences that come with it.
Phishing is a type of social engineering in which thieves pose as official authorities in order to trick their victims into disclosing personal information (passwords, account info, etc.). Emails, phone calls, phoney websites, and impersonating game masters or administrators are all examples of this. Phishing schemes nearly usually try to instil fear in their victims, telling them that they must act quickly to prevent some sort of disaster (account suspension, loss of privileges, etc.).
It’s critical to be able to recognize these frequent scam efforts if you want to keep your children safe online. Normally, phishing attempts of this kind will have a number of distinguishing characteristics.
- Phishing emails are notorious for their poor spelling and grammar. Basic spelling and grammatical faults that would never pass the copy editors of a real business are usually included by scammers.
- Suspicious Links: These links may appear to be authentic, but they are designed to trick you into installing dangerous software on your computer.
- Scammers utilise false graphics to give their message or fake site an air of legitimacy, but they may also hide connections to dangerous pop-ups.
- Another common feature of phishing mails is the use of threatening language. Threats of compromised security and account fines will be used by scammers to persuade you to act quickly.
This is an example of a scam email, courtesy of SophosLabs:
You’ll see that the email has all of the hallmarks of a phishing scam. The email has a strange subject line and a generic welcome; it is poorly structured, difficult to understand, contains scam visuals and links, and uses a scare strategy to encourage the recipient to respond quickly.
Scammers may get more sophisticated in some circumstances. Criminals can tailor their attack to a specific individual by obtaining personal knowledge about their target ahead of time, increasing the likelihood that their victim will fall for the fake. This is known as “spear phishing,” and there are numerous ways to reduce the danger (which we will list later).
Fake emails frequently try to lure players to bogus websites. We won’t connect to any, but you should be aware that bogus websites are used by scammers to steal login and password information. To deceive gamers, they use URLs that look disturbingly close to the real ones. The sites themselves, on the other hand, are frequently distinct enough to be identified visually.
Phishers may also use an in-game chat system to lure gamers to bogus websites. They’ll pretend to be an employee of a well-known organisation, then use threats or promises of incentives to persuade people to give their account information.
However, just like phishing emails, you can spot them by their lack of detail in the claims they make. Furthermore, most gaming services have systems that use unique identifiers to identify legitimate personnel and authority figures. If a “player” pretends to be a representative of a gaming firm but lacks the necessary identifiers, they’re most likely attempting to defraud you.
2. Be Doubtful
You should teach your children to be wary of texts they receive and to use best practises when dealing with any scam communications.
Trust your instincts if you receive a message that you suspect is a scam. Reputable gaming companies do not request passwords or personal information from their customers. Don’t fall for fear tactics or rewards that seem too good to be true.
If you receive a message requesting confidential information, claiming that your security has been hacked, or threatening account suspension (or other penalties), confirm and report the message to the company.
Because phishing emails frequently contain links, it is recommended to read your emails in plain text mode. You’ll be able to see the URLs associated with the links as a result of this. This method also works to get around messages that are designed to take use of your email client’s code execution capabilities (which could leave your computer open to forms of malware).
Never open attachments that come in unexpected emails because they could contain viruses or other harmful malware.
Remember to double-check links before clicking on them if you read emails in HTML format (by hovering your mouse over the URL). Don’t click a link if it doesn’t match what’s in the text or if it appears to be false. You can also check to see if the sender has employed a digital signature that identifies them as the authority they claim to be.
3. Protect yourself from spear phishing by keeping your personal information safe.
A scammer must know something about you before launching a spear phishing assault. You can reduce the risk by protecting your child’s personal information. They may not have any paper papers to trash just yet, but they almost certainly have a long internet history that spans numerous websites.
Make sure you know if they’re selling their information to other companies before they sign up for any sites, as this is how many scammers start gathering information on potential targets.
You should also warn children about the consequences of sharing too much information online. Scammers can use aspects of their identities to build their attacks when they communicate with people online and post information on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.
Encourage them to think about it and consider whether phishing emails could have gotten their personal information from what they’ve posted online.
4. Increase the security of your computer
There are technical precautions you can take to protect yourself from phishing scams. Teach your children these skills and make sure they use them at all times.
One example is the use of HTTPS. This is the “secure” version of Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP), which means the information passed from your computer to the website you’re visiting is encrypted. Most browsers offer a visual indicator that lets you know if the site you’re visiting is using an HTTPS connection, which is used by reputable websites to protect personal information.
You should set up your web browser with security-enhancing technologies. Most browsers include options for warning you when fraudulent sites try to install add-ons, blocking sites that have been reported as scams, and detecting other types of reported web trickery.
You may also be able to customise your email client to prevent links in emails, present you with alerts about dubious emails, and filter SPAM messages.
Make sure your security software is up to date. A firewall, as well as virus signature updates, should be part of your computer protection. To maintain the maximum level of security, you should update your web browsers and operating system on a regular basis.
Additionally, for gaming accounts that enable it, consider using two-factor authentication (2FA). To gain access to your account information, hackers will need more than simply your username and password.
5. Keep track of your finances on a regular basis.
This will alert you to any discrepancies. Routine account management will provide you with an overview of everything you’ve downloaded, any support tickets you’ve sent, and other details related to your gaming profile.
If you sense anything isn’t quite right, it’s probable you’ll need to take action. You’ll need to keep track of more than just your gaming accounts. Checking your credit card and bank statements should also become a habit. Purchases you don’t recall purchasing could be a clear indication that your account has been hacked.
6. Keep up with the latest news
When phishing is in full swing, the IT and gaming communities are usually the first to notice. When fraudster groups aiming to execute a major campaign are discovered, several internet publications will alert players. You can remember to remain on high alert when there’s an organised phishing scam in the works if you stay up to date on the current news.
7. Take into account educational resources
After all, knowledge is power. You can take advantage of online courses intended by experts to teach the general public how to recognise spoof emails, bogus websites, and other elements of phishing scams.
They may also offer tools to assist you in creating more secure passwords, learning how to report scams, and keeping your personal information safe when surfing the web. You should check these sources on a regular basis to understand about how phishing scams are changing so you can stay on top of all best practises.
There are various resources that provide a list of specific websites that have been flagged as frauds. You can use these if you come across a link that looks questionable, and you can also use them to report sites that you think are fraudulent.
Phishing and its impact on consumers have also piqued the curiosity of government agencies. To learn more about phishing or to report such frauds, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
8. What Should You Do If You Are A Victim Of A Phishing Scam?
If your child is unfortunate enough to fall victim to phishing, you should teach them how to mitigate the damage. If you’ve submitted your email and password combination to a fraudster by accident, you may be able to alter it before they can use your credentials to steal your identity.
Even if you have supplied information that you cannot change, such as your SSN or bank account information, you can still take actions to protect yourself from identity theft. Report the occurrence and visit the Federal Trade Commission’s database on identity theft to understand what steps to do next.
They can advise you on which law enforcement agencies to contact and what safeguards you can implement to limit what criminals can do with your stolen information.