Gaming has become serious business, to the extent that the best gamers are earning seven-figure incomes. The average professional gamer (esports) salary is about $60,000 per year. The emergence and growth of a professional gaming industry is a direct function of the popularity of online gaming, which has bred a fiercely competitive environment.

Of course, only a very small percentage of gamers generate any income from their pastime – most play for the fun, but they are no less committed to getting their hours of gameplay in each day.  Such a dedicated audience, however, has created another opportunity, one that takes advantage of the massive impact online gaming has had on users:  scams and cyberattacks.

A host of fake campaigns are taking aim at the gaming space – particularly those that operate on a freemium model, like the current craze, Fortnite. The scams look to lure gamers into thinking they can use hacks to gain free access to virtual goods or currency, directing them fake game-currency generators to ultimately get them to click on links to ads by making them believe they are accessing a hack. Often, small windows are opened that simulate scripts giving the appearance of an ongoing hack into the Fortnite account.  It’s not just Fortnite, of course. Similar tactics have been used for many popular games, from World of Warcraft to Minecraft.

The problem, of course, is that none of this is real and there is no chance of users gaining any new currency or other goods. Many of these scams operate on simple pay per click models, where advertisers are paying site owners (the scammers) for generating traffic. They are annoying, but generally harmless to users unless they have given up their account names and passwords, in which case hackers can take over their accounts and access any credit cards that are linked.

The bigger problem is that similar tactics can just as easily be used to install malicious software on the users’ machines to access financial accounts, corporate servers, or other sites. Suddenly, cyber criminals may have access to your customers’ account because they unsuspectingly clicked on a fake link trying to win a game. Or, your entire corporate network, including proprietary data and customer records may be compromised because an employee tried to get an edge on other games.

Either way, as a business, you have to take steps to protect your customers and employees from themselves. Naturally, you want to provide as much education as possible around cybersecurity and the many threats that exist. But, knowing that you can’t rely on your customers or employees to be as diligent as they should be regarding security, and also that cyber attacks are constantly evolving and becoming more advanced, you have to take measures in your own hands to protect your networks from unauthorized access. Expect that your networks, employees, and customers will all be hit with attacks, and assume that some of them will succeed, and plan your security strategy accordingly. You don’t have to be a gamer or a gaming business, but you should understand that gaming, like any popular online activity, presents an attack vector for cyber criminals to exploit.

To find out more about how to create an effective security strategy, click here.

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