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4 Ways People Are Tricked on Gaming Apps



Scams on Gaming Apps

As many as 1.92 billion people used mobile gaming apps in 2023. This hardly comes as a surprise, considering the uber popularity of some of the top games. Roblox, for instance, was downloaded 217 million times during the year, closely followed by Subway Surfers with 215 million downloads. 

Mobile games undoubtedly provide an excellent escape from daily stresses, and the sense of achievement and fulfillment of scaling the leaderboards is second to none.

However, they’re not without risks. If you aren’t careful, gaming apps can expose you to serious dangers in unexpected ways.

4 Ways People Are Tricked on Gaming Apps

Here are some of the common risks threatening mobile gamers and what you could do to protect yourself against them. 

1. Malware Downloads

Malware, short for malicious software, is primarily used to steal useful information and, sometimes, for financial theft.

Cybercriminals could devise different malware types for this. Ransomware is designed to hold devices hostage until users pay a ransom, usually in cryptocurrency or another untraceable method.

Spyware silently works in the background, collecting data from your smartphone and transmitting what’s gathered to its creators. Keyloggers, on the other hand, track your keystrokes to steal critical information, including credit card details and account passwords.

Some malware is less threatening than others. An example is adware that runs countless ads without your consent. Although it won’t pose a direct data or financial threat, such malware can use up your battery, slow down your phone’s performance, and, at times, compromise your device’s security.

But how can gaming apps lead to such malicious code? The mobile gaming applications you download could already contain malware.

Installing apps via third-party app stores, unverified platforms, and unsolicited emails and messages substantially increases the risk of malware-infected gaming apps.

Criminals usually go the extra mile to trick gaming fans into downloading these dubious products. They may, for instance, send you limited-time free offers to encourage you to install them.

How can you avoid such threats?

  • Always stick to reputed app stores and gaming platforms for your downloads.
  • If you’re unfamiliar with a particular game, read reviews first. However, watch out for fake ones that fraudulent app developers frequently use to mislead gamers.
  • Check the release date and the number of downloads of the app. More downloads are usually better. However, if they seem suspiciously high for a recently launched app, the data is likely manipulated.
  • Install anti-malware software that could help detect and remove related threats.
  • Run regular virus scans of devices connected to the internet.

2. Fake In-App Item Sales

This is a prevalent threat facing avid gamers looking to fast-track their way through a game using upgrades, cheat codes, and the like.

Scammers could target such players for financial fraud by promising in-app items and disappearing once they’re paid for or cheating gamers by selling fake goodies.

These bad actors could approach you through community chats within the app or on a gaming forum. They could also reach out to you via a direct message on social media or an unsolicited text or email.

If you’re looking to purchase in-app items to gain a few gaming advantages, follow these measures to avoid falling victim to a shady seller.

  • Limit purchases to the relevant gaming app or other reputed platform. Alternatively, seek a recommendation from someone you trust.
  • If you come across an online seller who seems to have positive reviews, take additional precautions to ensure your safety. For instance, ask for their phone number and reverse search it on Nuwber to find out more about them.
  • Be wary of anyone seeking payments through cryptocurrency, gift cards, and wire transfers. These are difficult to track and provide little to no protection for the buyer.
  • Never share your credit card and other personally identifiable information with sellers you meet online.

3. Account Takeovers

If you’ve progressed far in a game, your gaming account could be at risk of an account takeover.

When a hacker gains entry to your profile, you could potentially lose complete access to your account, its data, and in-game achievements.

For instance, cybercriminals can change your password to prevent you from logging in, steal your in-app items to sell them on the dark web, and even change your credentials and give away your entire account to the highest bidder.

If your profile is relatively new, it could still be of value to a malicious actor. While they may not take over it, they could steal your credit card information and any other identity-related data you’d saved under your account.

But how can these unscrupulous individuals get access to your gaming profile? Phishing is usually the number one technique used to steal log-in information.

Credential stuffing is also popular. This is when criminals devise advanced automated technology to hack into an account using a stolen database containing account credentials.

To protect your gaming profile,

  • Adopt strong passwords and make them unique to each account. This will help minimize the risk of a breach and prevent further breaches when one account is compromised.
  • Change your passwords every few months to avoid credential stuffing risks.
  • Use two-factor authentication for extra account protection.
  • Pay attention to alerts from reputed apps and platforms about log-in attempts from unfamiliar IP addresses. If you receive such a notification, visit the platform using its direct URL and change the password.
  • Be mindful of phishing attempts, especially via emails, messages, SMSs, and DMs. Never click on links or attachments on them unless you have verified their sources.

4. Data Tracking

Some legitimate apps can track your activities without your knowledge under the pretext of improving their services. This practice not only jeopardizes your privacy but can also expose you to various risks.

For instance, app developers could intentionally share what they collect with third parties, extending your digital data footprint and compromising your data security.

And if their databases experience a hacking attack, your personal data could go on sale on the dark web for more criminals to access.

To minimize such risks, check app permissions requested by gaming applications before installing them, and grant only what’s necessary.

  • Provide as minimum information as possible when setting up accounts. Use aliases or nicknames for your name and a secondary email address where possible.
  • Deactivate data-collecting features under the app settings.
  • Read and understand the data tracking, storing, and protection policies of applications.

Wrapping Up

Gaming app-related deceptive practices could put you at risk in innumerable ways. Malicious software downloads, fraudulent in-app item sales, account takeovers, and unethical data tracking rank high among the risks you stand to encounter.

Therefore, to ensure your gaming safety, remaining vigilant and adopting adequate precautions is critical.

Adam loves gaming and the latest Tech surrounding it, especially AI and Crypto Gaming are his fave topics

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