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How to avoid scams while live-streaming video games


Written by a NortonLifeLock employee

 

Get Norton 360 for Gamers

From casual to hard core gamers, Norton 360 for Gamers gives multiple layers of protection for your PC and devices, game accounts and digital assets.

Live-streaming video games has become big business on the back of soaring viewership numbers and a new generation of celebrity streamers.

So it’s no surprise that more and more gamers are now streaming on Twitch or YouTube. And why not? It’s a great way to show off your skills, hang out with some new people or try your hand at being a creator. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that you can also earn some extra cash in the process.

Lockdown and the pandemic provided streamers with a captive audience that was desperate for fresh entertainment, with Twitch achieving record-breaking numbers and Facebook Gaming reporting significant growth in 2020. Plus, everyone is desperate to share a real-time connection with other people and streaming video games provide that for both the gamer and the viewer.

It’s hard to see a downside, but anyone who’s thinking of getting into live-streaming video games should also be aware of the risks.

There’s always the possibility of running into abusive or obnoxious people when you’re interacting with anonymous online accounts. And you can also encounter cybercriminals or trolls who can attack you in very real ways outside of the game. Unfortunately, they can be harder to block in real life.

Here’s our list of some of the common attacks you can encounter when live-streaming video games and what you can do to protect yourself.

What is doxxing?

There’s a reason that so many high-profile streamers are protective of their real names. Something as simple as getting into a chat argument can lead vengeful users to try to doxx you. Doxxing is when someone posts your name, address or personal details on the internet.

YouTuber and Twitch gamer, Dream, was recently doxxed after frustrating fans with a fake face reveal. When he posted his kitchen photo on his Twitter account, internet sleuths used the image to find his house on a real estate site and then posted his address online.

This trend has been taken to disturbing lengths in the US with ‘swatting’, which involves calling the police to report a violent incident at a streamer’s address. In response to the complaint, armed police have been dispatched to the streamer’s home, which can be a terrifying experience. The goal is usually to capture the moment on the stream or get revenge on a streamer, but it has already had deadly consequences.

How to protect yourself from doxxing

Take some simple steps to protect your identity. Choose a username that can’t be linked to your real life, never reveal your real name and avoid sharing any personal details with your audience. Something as simple as telling followers it’s your birthday could be used against you.

If you have a social media account associated with your username, make sure that your posts don’t reveal any personal info and aren’t geotagged. And avoid having anything in the background of your shot that shows personal information or clues to your location.

Using a VPN will mask your IP address, which hackers can use to trace your name and address. A VPN is one of the simplest ways to stay anonymous on the internet and to make you virtually untraceable.

Using antivirus protection can also help protect against malware that could help a potential doxxer to find personal information on your devices.

Attacks on gamers by fake support staff

Beware of scammers or trolls pretending to be support staff or admin. By pretending to be official Twitch staff, they can often trick people into doing some pretty crazy stuff.

A classic scam is to warn streamers that a problem has been caused by a system 32 virus on their computer. System 32 is the folder that contains your Windows OS installation, but some trolls have managed to get Twitchers to delete the folder, wiping their computer in the process.

Pretending to be someone in authority is an old confidence trick designed to lower the victim’s defences.

How to protect yourself from fake ‘support staff’: 

When it comes to fake support staff, common sense can save you a lot of hassle. If this happens to you, take a moment to think about what they’re actually asking you to do. Does it make sense or seem logical? If you’re unsure, a quick Google search can help you to identify common scams.

Never give them remote access or moderator powers. You wouldn’t give a stranger the keys to your house, so don’t give them remote access to your device or account. If they’re granted moderator powers, it’s easy for them to ban any viewers who could try to warn you about the scam as it unfolds on their screens.

How malware or viruses attack gamers 

Malware may not be a new problem, but it’s one that continues to catch people out. There are many malicious software types, but most of them rely on you doing something to get infected. That’s usually clicking on a dodgy link or attachment.

Hackers have previously hit streaming sites with malicious software in Twitch chat forums that would spend the money in users’ Steam accounts. It can be easy to click on what looks like an innocent link and to give a hacker access to your device. Once you’ve downloaded a virus or malicious software, there’s nothing to stop them from accessing your personal or financial information.

Malware comes in many forms, so you can end up locked out of your device if you download ransomware. Or a hacker can use spyware to take over your device’s camera and secretly record you without your knowledge.

How to protect yourself against malware or viruses

If someone’s offering you free stuff if you click on a link, that should always raise a red flag. The fake admin scam is another way they can trick people into downloading malware. A good rule of thumb is to avoid clicking on links in chats, even if they appear to come from a trusted source.

Your best defence is common sense. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

One way to have protection against malware and viruses is to install antivirus software on your devices. Using a cybersecurity solution such as Norton 360 for Gamers includes webcam protection that alerts you to unauthorised access to your camera, so you don’t need to worry about people watching you when you’re not streaming.

Gamers and hacked accounts

Hacked accounts can be a major problem, and many of these cases are down to poor password hygiene. When the game Town of Salem was breached in 2019, almost 8 million passwords were compromised.

The result was that Twitch accounts started falling like dominoes in the wake of the breach. It’s believed that hackers used bots that cycle through stolen credentials from breached accounts to unlock victims’ other accounts. So anyone who recycled a compromised password on Twitch had essentially given the hackers a key to their Twitch account. 

How to protect yourself from hacked accounts

Sure, it’s tempting to use the same password for all your accounts, but it’s risky if one of them is compromised. Choosing original, complex passwords for each account is less of a headache in the long run.

Sites like Twitch offer two-factor authentication, and you should always set it up on your accounts. It’s an extra layer of protection, even if someone gets access to your login details.

Another good option is to have a dedicated email account for the likes of Steam, Epic, Discord, Twitch or any other streaming accounts you may have. That can create an effective firewall between your real-life and your streaming life in the event of a breach.

Gamers and DDoSing

A growing problem for online gamers is a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, which can take your whole system down from a distance. Hackers take over hundreds or thousands of devices to create a botnet, then use them to overwhelm your device or network with incoming messages, requests or fake packages in a DDoS attack.

One minute you’re playing away, and the next, your entire system has crashed. Often the perpetrator is just someone who’s taken a grudge against you, which can be something of an occupational hazard for streamers.

Another trick they have used to get a streamer’s IP address is telling a streamer that their sound isn’t working and referring them to a site for how to fix it. Once you click on the link, they can access your IP address, and a DDoS attack probably isn’t far away.

With ready-made DDoS kits reportedly available for as little as $10, you don’t even need to be a technical whizzkid to DDoS someone. Some streamers can find themselves being kicked offline multiple times a week, which is incredibly frustrating if you don’t know who’s doing it or when it’s coming.

How to protect yourself from DDoSing

The best line of defence is a VPN, which you may remember from our chat about doxxing. A VPN helps prevent an attacker from launching a DDoS attack by hiding your IP address, which they use to target you. They can’t hit what they can’t see, so it lets you stay anonymous and off their radar.

Stay safe and have protection while gaming

Live-streaming video games can be a great way to try something new, be creative, and meet like-minded people while playing your favourite games. It’s a step into an entirely new world that can give you access to fun experiences, new friends and even a way to earn some extra money.

There is a risk of encountering scams or cyberattacks, but using a cybersecurity solution like Norton 360 for Gamers can help keep you safer and with protection when you’re streaming.

Whether you’re a hardened streamer or you’ve just started streaming, it can give multiple layers of protection for your devices, gaming accounts and your digital assets. So the only thing you’ll have to worry about is keeping your followers entertained.

Get Norton 360 for Gamers

From casual to hard core gamers, Norton 360 for Gamers gives multiple layers of protection for your PC and devices, game accounts and digital assets.


Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. NortonLifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

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