Safety When Playing Online: What Do We Know?
With the user penetration rate of 14.5% – the number is projected to grow to 16.4% by 2025 – online gaming is one of the most rapidly developing industries.
But not all of the 2.7 billion gamers across the globe are aware of the price at which gaming may come: data compromised, identity hi-jacked, money stolen.
Over 90% of users have at least one concern about data privacy. They are worried about:
● Personal data compromised by cybercriminals – 47%.
● Personal data sold to third parties – 40%.
● Uncertainty regarding the use of personal data by companies they deal with – 31%.
● Physical assaults after a sensitive information breach – 24%.
The worries are not ungrounded: breaches do happen, data sales do happen, physical assaults do happen. On the bright side, though, there are a few simple measures to boost your data safety at your Cookie Casino or wherever you play. Without further ado, let’s find out what you can do with it.
VPN and the Five Eyes Alliance
Chances are you are familiar with a virtual private network (VPN) and have most likely used it at least once. But what you might not know is that not all VPNs are equal: while there are some really safe VPN services like Express VPN or CyberGhost, some of them – especially the free ones – might sell your data or disclose it upon request.
To choose a good VPN, make sure that it:
a) Is not registered in one of the countries of Five Eyes Alliance, Nine Eyes Alliance, or Fourteen Eyes Alliance.
b) Does not store data logs.
Now, what are these Alliances? Well, these are (or we should say were) secret international organizations collecting and exchanging user data, including online data. It would only be natural to assume that any privacy-protecting organization registered within the Alliances might share your data – which is why it would be safer to choose a VPN registered outside the USA, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Spain, Singapore, Japan, Israel, and South Korea (the latter four are not proved but possible contributors to the Alliance).
Even if you’re not playing in-browser games, you use a browser – or a few ones – for your daily online needs. Safe browsers are constructed to automatically prevent unauthorized third-party activity by using in-built and ever-updated white lists and blacklists of programs and activities. Safe browsers prevent collecting your private information, such as visited websites, your usernames, and passwords.
Note that even if you’re using a VPN, you’re only hiding your IP address, whereas the rest of the sensitive information remains available for third parties, which is why using a safe browser is a must. Speaking of which, the best are Tor, Brave, Chromium, Google Chrome, and Firefox. As an additional security measure, you can use web advisors to mitigate the risks of typos, malicious links, etc.
Mental Health: Gaming Addiction
Not only does the new ‘online’ paradigm challenge the way we work and play online, but it also threatens our mental health, especially in the overeager gamers. In 2018, the term ‘gaming disorder’ was added to the medical reference book of the World Health Organization.
Gaming addiction is new and only being research by scientists, but it might be reasonable to assume that it acts akin to gambling addiction, rewiring the brain to release (and then crave more and more) dopamine in response to a gaming session – just the same way it goes when a drug addict takes a dose.
Not everyone spending hours with his smartphone is a gaming addict – after all, on average, gamers play for 8 hours and 27 minutes a week– but make sure to check for the following symptoms if you’re worried about your mental health:
● Cannot stop talking about gaming and feeling but when can’t play.
● The ever-increasing need to play: extra hours added each week.
● Constant revenge gaming: can’t stop until winnings.
● Substituting other important things with gaming
● Lying about the time spent on games.
Depending on the source, from 1% to 9% of all gamers have a gaming addiction, so it might be worth double-checking yourself – or at least taking an extra walk in the park with your beloved one or your friends. And with that, play smart and stay safe and healthy!