Lockdown has led to a huge upsurge in the use of games consoles to help people stay entertained throughout the long hours of being cooped up indoors – but they are also an easy way for cybercriminals to access people’s systems and networks.

Indeed, video gamers have increasingly become a target for cybercriminals especially since most players have associated accounts, containing bank details, personal information and email.

Check Point Software Technologies highlights the main cyber-risks that may be involved in being registered on the different video game platforms, and urges both players and parents to be aware of the dangers they are exposed to when sitting in front of their screens for hours at a time:

* Downloading from unofficial sites: Users of these platforms often turn to third-party sites where accounts with various games are offered at a much lower cost than the official price. These sites provide no guarantee that you can enjoy the games safely, without your personal and bank details being used for other purposes or without a malicious file being attached to the download. To avoid such risks, Check Point Software recommends always downloading from official websites and not resorting, under any circumstances, to websites of dubious origin.

* Bank identity theft: whether on mobile devices or consoles, more and more people are buying video games through the virtual stores of the respective platforms, rather than buying them from physical shops. When making an online purchase you need to enter your bank details, and this is one of the easiest entry vectors for cybercriminals. When doing so, it is essential to make sure that the website you are entering has all the necessary security measures in place. To do this, you need to check whether it contains the letters https:// at the beginning of the URL of the search engine. These letters indicate that the page in question is protected by an SSL certificate, a type of digital security that allows encrypted communication between a website and a web browser, protecting all the data entered.

* Phishing attacks: In these cases, cybercriminals have the advantage in that many their victims are young children or teenagers, who may not be as aware or knowledgeable enough to spot the signs of phishing. For example, emails and text messages warning of a password change or requesting account passwords due to a technical error on the part of the company. To protect against these, never click on any links contained in emails from unknown senders, and never download any attachments. The best option is to go to the game’s official website, log into your account and check that the content of the email is genuine.

* Camera, microphone, and location permissions: these authorisations are mainly required by mobile applications and games. They are required by companies, but a cyber-attack on a device or on the company itself could have dire consequences, as they will have access to all files and information collected by these functions. Most social networks and video game platforms make it a mandatory condition to have all these permissions activated and without them, it is not possible to access the functions they offer, but as far as possible they should be disabled, where possible, to protect the devices.