The digital world is a vast one that is consistently growing as we speak and the gaming industry is one particularly guilty of this rapid expansion. From the introduction of artificial intelligence to promote a more personalised gaming experience, to faster online platforms allowing gamers to play alongside others over the internet, these improvements have certainly proven to disrupt the industry in all the right ways – or are they? While these new innovations are certainly improving gameplay as we know it, the speed of innovation can often leave room for weaknesses in security and as a result, the gaming industry is becoming rife with fraud, hacking and data theft.
However, while some technological advances are causing trouble within the industry, others are helping to improve online gaming security as we know it. We’re exploring just a few of them below.
Why Do Gamers Make Good Targets For Cybercrime?
To truly understand how technology can help prevent cybercrime, we have to understand why it’s such a big issue in the first place. As mentioned before, new technological advancements can cause adverse consequences including points of weakness that make illicit activity within the online gaming industry much easier. However, there are a few things in particular about this industry that makes it so prone to these cyberattacks.
The biggest dark side to online gaming is the hacking of accounts and the resulting identity theft. While a lot of this tends to be harmless ‘banter’ between friends, there are malicious hackers on the web who can use access to an account to do a number of things, most of which can lead to profit. This could include holding in-game content, characters and accounts to ransom for real-world money, or even the theft of personal details, including bank account access. While the theft of in-game content may not seem overly important to those who aren’t gamers themselves, the money and time that can go into the gaining of rare items, for example, can make this a serious issue for gamers.
Blockchain technology is often better known as the driving force behind Bitcoin and other altcoins. The blockchain is essentially a decentralised ledger that holds data for transactions in ‘blocks,’ making for an entirely transparent but completely secure method of exchanging digital coins online. So, as you may have already gathered, the rise of blockchain technology could actually prove beneficial to the online gaming industry. While there is a lot we can learn from online gaming security, there is plenty that it can learn from other industries too and the blockchain is just one of them.
Through the introduction of blockchain into the games we know and love, online payments using in-game or online coins can ensure anonymity and security. Blockchain is hosted not just on one computer, but across a whole network and so, when you consider the sheer user base of some of the most popular games on the market, this network could be pretty much impenetrable.
Random Number Generators
Random number generators are the force behind fair gameplay online, from loot boxes to casino games. There are always new players entering the industry, but one thing that hasn’t changed much and certainly doesn’t need to, is a secure and fair random number generator behind our favourite games. When online, there’s no ‘real’ force driving the spinning roulette wheel or how many opponents will spring up in the next level, and so these number generators mimic real-world change and ensure that the game you’re playing is provably fair.
This is the same in other online games where loot boxes or random content is involved. While completely random choices arguably aren’t as necessary as they are with online betting, consumers and players rest a little easier knowing that the loot boxes they’re buying or playing to get will contain a completely random set of items, which can ultimately help to improve security in ensuring that game makers aren’t exploiting those willing to pay real-world money for the purchase. Game makers and gaming operators of strategy games, casino or RPG style games to mention a few, need to ensure that they’re following best gaming practices to ensure safety, and random number generation is just one way to make sure that this is the case.
Biometrics aren’t an entirely new technology, but they’re just beginning to gain more traction in gaming and are extremely valuable when it comes to our online security. We see biometrics everywhere nowadays, from our smartphones to airport security, and it’s already making security measures much more efficient.
In payment security especially, biometrics could transform how we validate our payments and prevent fraud. Touch ID is one of the most common methods currently, particularly with iPhone users, with most opting for using their fingerprints for their apple payments rather than pin numbers. A simple inclusion of a thumbprint reader on a games console or PC touchpad could create the same level of security in the future, and this is already being seen across a number of new models, particularly on Lenovo’s newest releases.
The true extent at which technology could improve our online security is truly a matter of seeing which innovations come next, but there’s no doubting that the world is already well on its way to ensuring gamers are protected online. Whether it’s through biometric validation for our payments, or the introduction of blockchain within our favourite games, these are just a few ways that technology is already making online gaming a much more secure place to be.