Are you one of the 70 million PlayStation Network users who were impacted by the Sony data breach. I was. So were my kids. We’re avid gamers in our household, and we spend most of our play time signed into online multiplayer matches. We trusted Sony to keep our private data secure, but the reality is that even organizations as large as Sony aren’t always to keep user data safe.
So what are gamers supposed to do? Stop gaming? Sure. That’ll happen. While we’re at it, let’s tell fish to stop swimming, and tell birds to stop flying.
My mantra, my credo, is that security concerns aren’t supposed to keep us from enjoying life. On the contrary, we need to know how to do the things we want to do SECURELY, whether we’re a multibillion dollar international corporation or a household of video game enthusiasts.
If you’re a gamer (or the parent, sibling, grandparent, spouse, partner, or next door neighbor of a gamer), here are a few tips you need to consider in order to enjoy gaming securely.
- Anonymize your online gaming profile. If your gamer tag is a combination of your name and birthdate, then you’re one step away from handing over your identity to someone else. Choose a more creative gamer tag that represents your interests without revealing any private information. Say you’re a huge Douglas Adams fan who always wanted to be an astronaut as a kid. Is stargazer42 taken?
- Register with a throwaway email account. Gmail is free. Yahoo mail is free. Hotmail is free. With so many options for free email accounts, consider using a throwaway email account for services like PSN and Xbox Live. Not only will you sleep better in the wake of data breaches, you’ll avoid any of the spam that ends up in that account in the meantime.
- NEVER register with a debit card or high limit credit card. This is true for both gaming security and mobile device security. If, for whatever reason, you store a credit card with any online service, use a prepaid credit card. If (when?) that card is compromised, you’ve limited your risk to the remaining balance on that card, and not the remaining balance in your checking account.
- Only friend people you know. You don’t need to accept every friend request you receive. We have a strict rule in our house that our kids are only allowed to friend people they know IRL (in real life). Not only do they keep their friends list manageable, their online interactions are more enjoyable. If you don’t believe me, maybe I’ll upload a video of my oldest playing Call of Duty: Black Ops – Zombies with his two best buds. It’s a riot.
Specific to the Sony incident, there are three things you should do as soon as possible:
- Change your email password. This info was almost certainly compromised, and it will be abused by whoever stole the data. Login RIGHT NOW to the email account that you used to register for PSN and change your password before someone else does.
- Contact your credit card company. If you have a credit card on file with Sony, it’s safe to assume that someone else now has that credit card number. You should report the card compromised and request a replacement as soon as possible.
- Begin monitoring your credit. Give Sony’s blog post another read to learn how you can have credit bureaus place place a fraud alert on your file (as well as the impacts of doing so). You can also enroll in a credit monitoring service, but they’re costly and, in my opinion, Sony should be picking up this cost, but you’ll have to take that up with Sony PlayStation Customer Support.
Online gaming is ridiculously entertaining, and incidents like the Sony data breach shouldn’t discourage you from taking part in that fun. If anything, this incident should serve as a reminder that you can still enjoy the things that make you happy.
Be careful out there.