Any gamer who values performance knows to avoid malware infections. A computer virus, worm, adware, cryptojacker, or other potentially unwanted programs (PUP) can slow down a system or bring it to a halt.
Some types of malware like spyware, ransomware, or certain Trojan horses can even steal the usernames and passwords to your gaming or payment accounts. But where do gamers get malware infections, and how can they avoid them? Let’s look at some common threat vectors for gamers:
#1 Pirated Games
Hackers often use pirated games as bait to spread different types of malware. For example, cybercriminals have made a small fortune with the cryptojacking malware known as Crackonosh. Titles that carry Crackonosh include Grand Theft Auto V, Pro Evolution Soccer 2018, and NBA 2K19.
Cryptojacking malware uses your computer’s resources to mine cryptocurrency without your consent. Here are a few negative impacts of such malware:
Reduced hardware lifespan due to excessive work
Higher electricity bills
Crackonosh is particularly malicious because it can disable Windows Update, Windows Defender, and even some third-party cybersecurity software. To protect yourself from all types of malware, download advanced antivirus software that features anti-malware technology, can crush cryptojackers, and doesn’t hog your computer’s resources.
#2 Pirated Operating System
Like pirated games, pirated operating systems can also function as Trojans for malware. Moreover, pirated operating systems usually can’t download the latest updates. An outdated operating system is more likely to have compatibility issues, resulting in slowdowns. Moreover, an outdated operating system will have vulnerabilities for hackers to manipulate.
#3 Malicious Websites
We’ve all been tempted to buy CD keys from unofficial websites to save a few bucks. But video game publishers argue that such keys are usually acquired by these resellers on the grey market and hurt the industry. Unfortunately, many CD key websites also attack visitors with malware.
Some malicious websites use a drive-by download attack to install adware or Trojans on unsuspecting users. Others use clickjacking malware to hijack clicks for likes, unauthorized credit card purchases, or malicious infections.
#4 Inadequate Cybersecurity Software
Gamers that rely on their operating system’s basic antivirus software can be vulnerable to more threatening malware like rootkits, worms, and dangerous ransomware strains. Look for anti-malware software that’s light, proactive, highly rated, and can stop all types of malicious software, from viruses to spyware.
#5 Poor Network Security
Bad network security can also open the door for some types of malicious software. But a computer firewall can help defend the network. In addition, a virtual private network subscription (VPN) can also provide network security. When looking for a VPN service, choose a top VPN that’s secure, high tech, and offers excellent speeds. But avoid free VPNs as they’re slow and may have malware.
#6 Compromised Browser
Many hackers target gamers with malware through their web browsers. That’s why it’s a good idea to screen your plugins and extensions for red flags. Remove suspicious applications with extreme prejudice.
These are just some of the ways gamers get malware infections. Sometimes, the best way to stay secure and avoid headaches is to play it safe.