Gaming on the Go: How to Protect Yourself on Public WiFi

Whenever you stream movies, connect with friends on social media or play your favorite games, your computer and personal information is at risk. While you can never completely eliminate the risk of a hack, you can limit your chances with the proper software and precautions. However, if you use public WiFi connections in libraries, cafes or even dorm rooms, you put yourself at considerably more risk. Don’t be the victim of a cyberattack while gaming on public WiFi. Protect yourself with these tips.

Gamer Mode

Don’t disable your anti-virus when you enter the game. While this is a risky action, even on protected WiFi, on public WiFi you’re asking for an attack. Without an anti-virus, your computer has no protection from a hacker who seeks access to your computer, and while no anti-virus is a guarantee, there’s no reason you should make it easier for hackers.

But how do you play your favorite online game with an anti-virus and/or firewall on? Many top-shelf anti-viruses have addressed this issue with a smart Gamer Mode. Gamer Mode differs, however, on the anti-virus in question. Some anti-viruses provide a Gamer Mode that simply suspends notifications, while others pair down the protection and disable virus scanning, which reduces the system footprint on your machine and enhances the performance of your computer.

While performance is important while you’re on a guild raid or in a battle with another clan, don’t sacrifice protection for better environment texturing. The gamble could cost you thousands of dollars as well as years of legal grief.

Passwords and Protection

One of the most common hacks that target gamers is that of keystroke capture. In this scheme, a virus that records the keys you push when you enter your account information is hidden on your computer. It requires very little effort on the part of the hacker once the virus is on your computer, and if you don’t use multiple passwords, gives them access to many, if not all, of your passwords and account names.

The need to use many different passwords should be obvious, yet many people use weak and similar passwords for their accounts. Don’t fall into this trap.

Use a password keeper on your phone that is password protected so nobody can steal your passwords by boosting your phone.

Another way you can protect your accounts is with two-factor authentication. Apple has an authenticator service, Google another and a third party authenticator, Authy, rounds out the top products in this market.

An authenticator links with your accounts and when you sign in, sends you a one-time-use number code in the form of text, email or app notification. The website will redirect you and ask for this authentication code. Unless the hacker has your phone or access to your authentication code, there’s no way the hacker will be able to gain access to your accounts.

Recourse and Prevention

No preventative measures you take will eliminate your risk. That’s why, if you game on public WiFi, an identity theft prevention service such as LifeLock is recommended. LifeLock monitors your lines of credit, bank accounts and even your Social Security number, in case of an identity breach.

Another line of defense is to bolster your cyber security with VPN. VPN software masks your IP address, making your computer impossible to track. If would-be hackers cannot identity your port location, they have more difficulty gaining access to your computer.

Updated: March 28, 2016 — 5:09 pm

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