5 Tips for Keeping Online Games Secure

Once upon a time, "computer games" were just hands of Solitaire you played alone at your PC when you should have been working. But in the new age of the Internet, online gaming has exploded into a giant industry, full of multiplayer online games that bring together gamers from every walk of life, on every continent, to duke it out in elaborate alternative universes. It's pretty cool, but it also comes with some risks.

Here are five tips that will help you field some of the more obvious threats you might encounter in online gaming:

1. Stay anonymous. Don't give away your name or location in your username. If you're asked to create a personal profile, make sure you don't reveal anything that could be used to identify you in real life—such as your email address, your physical address, your name or your age.

2. Voice chat with caution. Some games will let you talk with other players through a headset. If you decide to do this, consider using a voice masking feature that will disguise your gender and age.

3. Know how to deal with bullies. Make sure you know how to contact a moderator if another player gets out of hand. You can also block players who harass you. It's best to know how to do that in advance, so that if you encounter a really unpleasant player you can block them as quickly as possible.

4. Get your games from a reputable source and keep them up to date. Make sure you're using an authorized version of the game. Using a pirated version of the game could get you kicked out or make you subject to fines or penalties. It could also open you up to security vulnerabilities that you wouldn't encounter with an authorized version.

5. Keep your antivirus software up to date. It's always good to have a layer of protection to stand between you and the rest of the wild, wild Internet.

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