Gamers must guard against vindictive hackers – ISPA

South Africa’s Internet Service Providers’ Association is warning the country’s 11 million gamers to minimise their chances of being targeted for vindictive hacking by being respectful online.

The global gaming industry has exploded under lockdown when it was already the third most popular entertainment genre in the world after books and gambling. Unfortunately, more people playing games professionally or for leisure online has exposed the ease with which gaming consoles can be hacked, especially by fellow gamers with an axe to grind.

Online games are played on PCs, mobile phones and dedicated gaming consoles. When it comes to the latter, it is easy to forget that consoles are, in fact, powerful computers that can be used to invade privacy, harm targeted gamers emotionally, professionally and financially, and even disrupt the network of the gamer’s Internet Service Provider (ISP).

“Our advice to gamers is to be courteous and respectful online. Do not trade insults with fellow gamers under the assumption that online anonymity is always guaranteed. Smart hackers can indeed find out the real-world identity of other gamers and this could be dangerous,” says André van der Walt, chair of ISPA.

Gaming and eSports are growing fast in South Africa, driven by the unprecedented events of this year and also by South Africa’s plunging data prices and steadily improving home and business fibre access. With more of us gaming online, Mr van der Walt offers the following advice to gamers for staying safe:

Do not assume anonymity online. Just because a gamer doesn’t know what the other player’s name is, or even where they are, does not mean that they can not find you.

Acknowledge that the virtual world is made up of real people, so the rules of real-world engagement still apply. You must be respectful, gaming is a sport and gamers must endeavour to be good sportspeople. Lose honourably. Never be abusive, do not use foul language and be polite.

Keep your software up to date with regular system updates, guard against intrusion by fake emails, software plug-ins and add ons that wish to gain illegitimate access.

Please visit www.ispa.org.za or follow @ISPA_ZA for more information.

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