NortonLifeLock published the findings of a global study that sheds light on the cyber risks impacting the gaming community. The survey, conducted by The Harris Poll among more than 700 American adults who currently play online games, found that 47% of American gamers have experienced a cyberattack to their gaming account or device. Of those, 76% report that they were financially affected as a result, losing a striking $744 on average.
The study also uncovered surprising findings about gamer-to-gamer cyber risks and the great lengths gamers are willing to go to win. 23% U.S. gamers are likely to hack into the gaming account of a friend, family member or romantic partner if they knew it would give them a competitive advantage in an online game. This sentiment is more pronounced among hardcore gamers in the U.S., with 42% agreeing, underscoring serious gamers’ tenacious determination to win.
“These findings are jarring, but there are some gamers out there that will do whatever it takes to win,” said BigCheeseKIT, gamer and Twitch streamer. “I’ve learned that when you’re gaming online, it’s so important to be mindful of who you are friends with online and what information you share when gaming online. While this is especially true for professional gamers who have that public profile, it’s clear this goes for any online gamer.”
The competitive drive putting gamers at risk of a cyberattack
The competitive drive extends across all types of gamers in the U.S., from casual to hardcore gamers. If they knew it would secure a competitive advantage, about one in four American gamers are likely to exploit a loophole or bug in a game (27%), pay to take possession of another user’s gaming account (25%), install cheats to their gaming account or devices (24%), or hack into the gaming account of a random person (24%).
“Cheats, trainers and exploits can be incredibly alluring for driven gamers,” said Darren Shou, Head of Technology, NortonLifeLock. “Scammers know this and will often try to trick gamers into clicking phishing links or downloading malware by touting limited edition items or secret cheat codes that promise to give a competitive boost.
“If the scam works, gamers might lose their gaming profile, digital assets or personal information. The real competitive advantage is having strong security protection that can thwart these threats and keep gamers in the game.”
- Struggles with security basics. Many gamers in the U.S. admit to a number of risky online gaming habits, like using the same password for more than one gaming account or device (47%), sharing personal information (e.g., names and birthdays) while playing a game online (39%), or downloading add-ons (e.g., characters, skins, swag, etc.) from a website that was not associated with the game distributor (29%).
- Doxing isn’t uncommon. Among Americans gamers who have had a gaming device or account targeted by a cyberattack, one in five have been doxed (21%), or had their personal information stolen and shared publicly online.
- Gaming over everything. The majority of hardcore gamers in the U.S. say they would rather spend time gaming than attending a friend or family member’s birthday party (74%), going on a date (68%), or simply spending time with friends or family (55%).