Kaspersky: Gamers face high and ongoing risk of identity theft and bullying

A survey of gamers worldwide found that gamers deal with bullying and theft of in-game valuables in addition to identity theft.

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Internet identity theft on a digital tablet with reflection of hackers hand concept for online digital crime

American gamers are at a higher risk for identity theft than gamers around the world, according to new research from security firm Kaspersky.

Twenty-seven percent of gamers in the US have had their ID stolen compared to only 12% worldwide, based on data from "Generation Game." Kaspersky surveyed 5,031 gamers in 17 countries for the report. That works out to about 179 million people around the world who have had their identity stolen through a video game scam.

All survey respondents were under 35, spread evenly across gender, age, and socioeconomic status, and play at least 5-10 hours per week on a PC. The survey also asked about how much respondents talked with their family members about gaming and why people play in the first place.

SEE: Identity theft protection policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Marina Titova, head of consumer product marketing at Kaspersky, said that there are many ways of tricking users into providing their gaming ID or other personal details from setting up relatively basic scams exploiting hype around a trending video game to creating websites that mimic or copy online stores with a very high-level quality of execution. 

"Gaming companies are working on strengthening their defenses and teaming up with cybersecurity companies that can provide more expert and enhanced protection," she said.

Kaspersky has warned gamers about recent scams and cyberattacks that have targeted accounts on popular platforms such as Steam and Battle.net. Gamers should take some of the same steps that business users do to protect their accounts and gaming accomplishments. This includes unique and strong passwords and setting up two-factor authentication. Users also can check recent activity on their accounts and adjust privacy settings, according to advice from Kaspersky. The company also has advice on how to protect Steam accounts, including how to avoid leaking data, money, and items.

Fortnite also has been a target recently with scammers offering fake V-Bucks stores and using millions of YouTube videos to promote the schemes. In November, criminals were targeting PUBG mobile accounts with phishing sites that offered free giveaways and other bait designed to steal user data.

SEE: Social engineering: A cheat sheet for business professionals (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The cybersecurity company recommends users take these steps to avoid scams and identity theft:

  • Buy from official sources only
  • Always be suspicious of emails promoting scales and discounts
  • Confirm "too good to be true" discounts on the official site 
  • Use a dedicated card for online shopping to reduce your risk of financial loss
  • Play from home and use a VPN

Kaspersky contests the idea that running security software while playing online games hurts performance. The company claims that speedrunner Xiae who recently set a world record for  completing Doom Eternal in less than 69 minutes was running Kaspersky Internet Security in the background.

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By Veronica Combs

Veronica Combs is a senior writer at TechRepublic. For more than 10 years, she has covered technology, healthcare, and business strategy. In addition to her writing and editing expertise, she has managed small and large teams at startups and establis...