Gaming online should keep you on your toes — but because the game is thrilling and the competition fierce, not because your PC has gotten a virus unexpectedly and now your data, information, or device is at risk. You may not realize it, but gaming can make your PC extremely vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. As the COVID-19 crisis continues and online gaming becomes more and more popular, experts believe that threats will continue to increase.
Luckily, there is a slew of technology for online gamers that can help keep you safe when you game online — especially PC antivirus protection programs. While antivirus software can't keep you safe from every cyberattack while gaming, an understanding of the cybersecurity threats gamers face — as well as how antivirus software can help protect you—will help keep your devices and information secure while you're online. If you're wondering about whether you should keep anti-virus on while gaming or whether antivirus protection could affect your experience negatively (or not), here's what you need to know.
Gaming is rarely mentioned when people discuss cybersecurity issues. However, threats to gamers are real — and they're getting worse. This is especially true now that we're deep into the COVID-19 pandemic, and more people than ever are using online gaming as a way to find entertainment and escape. People are also using gaming—especially multi-player games that connect players in real-time—as a means of connecting with other people to ease the loneliness and isolation that people are experiencing during lockdowns and quarantine. Because of the skyrocketing popularity of gaming, gaming platforms are seeing record numbers of users. In March 2020, Steam reached an all-time record for both active users and concurrent users actively playing games. This means that there are more possible targets than ever accessing games—and more potential people who could be the victims of cyberattacks.
Here are some of the specific cybersecurity threats gamers face when gaming online:
Threats can come from anywhere when you are playing an online game. As mentioned above, viruses aren't only accidentally downloaded when you download a game. They can also come in the form of weapons or equipment to purchase. Sometimes, they are offered by other players who have malicious intentions. Or, they can be offered by hackers who are simply in the game posing as gamers. Alternatively, viruses can be handed over unintentionally, without malicious intent. If another player offers you something to download that they don't know is infected with a virus, your computer now has the virus too.
Battling a virus on your computer isn't as simple as battling an opponent in a game. Viruses often cause your computer to run incredibly slowly. Alternatively, they might completely destroy your ability to use your computer — requiring expensive, expert repairs. And viruses can compromise your sensitive or financial information, which can lead to even bigger problems that extend beyond your PC — like identity theft, stolen money, and more.
Many people are now working from home because of the pandemic. This now increases the risks that online gamers face—and not only when it comes to their games. Online games are simply a window into your home's or family's network. If a bad actor can access your network via one device (the one you are gaming on), you aren't only at risk of losing the game or having currency stolen. All of your devices are now actually at risk, too. Those with bad intent can steal financial or personal information from other smart devices or PCs that are connected to the same network as the computer that you are gaming on. And, even worse, if you’re work computer is connected to your home Internet, that computer is now at risk too.
Those who work from home want to be especially careful because business information on work computers can be compromised if networks are accessed via games. The harm can spread even farther—from the information on only your device—to the entire infrastructure of your company if you are accessing a remote work network from home. If malicious actors can access the work network from access your network while you game, you put your entire company at risk—which may be a much larger risk to take than simply compromising your own game or devices. For this reason, security is extra important in this new digital, work-from-home, pandemic era.
It's clear that the risk of downloading a virus while gaming is real. However, many gamers are hesitant to use anti-virus software while they are playing a game. After all, they don't want to ruin their immersive experience — especially if that experience is a multiplayer one in real-time. However, if you game regularly on your PC, you should, without question, keep antivirus protection on your PC. Here are the most important reasons to keep antivirus on while you play:
Antivirus programs are made nowadays to function invisibly. Their makers don't even want you to know that they're there, in the background, working. In fact, some antivirus programs that run enhance the functioning of your computer, because they block bad software and clean your hard drive regularly. So, if you have antivirus on, you may even experience increased functioning while you play, ensuring a seamless and smooth gaming experience.
One reason that you want to keep antivirus on while you're gaming is that many antivirus programs have PC Cleanup on them. This means that when you're done gaming, they will run on your computer and clean up any unnecessary and excessive files or downloads. This means that when you're not online or gaming, your antivirus can do the work to keep your computer clean, safe, and functioning well. And if you leave it on while gaming, your antivirus can begin the process of cleaning up your PC as soon as you're done playing a game.
Lots of the best antivirus software can run without you noticing one bit, no matter what platform you're playing on. Some antivirus programs recognize trusted gaming platforms, like Steam, and purposely function so that they don't interfere at all with the platform's activity.
Gamer editions of antivirus software are built specifically to protect you while you game. This means you'll avoid the biggest security threats while you're playing, and you won't experience any interruption in your experience.
You don't mean to, but you finish gaming and turn off your PC. You go to work the next morning, and now you're browsing the internet completely unprotected and vulnerable. When you keep antivirus on while gaming, you eliminate the risk that antivirus is off whenever you might need it.
Sometimes, as careful as you are and as hard as you try to avoid malicious actors on the Internet, you can find yourself having encountered a virus or with malware on your device. If you have antivirus on while you game, you can ensure that those bad actors are caught as quickly as possible. The quicker that a virus or any security threat is detected on your PC, the quicker it can be dealt with. The longer a virus is on your PC, the more damage it can do—or the more information a bad actor can access. So, keep your antivirus on while gaming, and you can be sure that in case you encounter anything dangerous on the web, you've minimized the ultimate amount of damage that it can do.
Kaspersky is dedicated to keeping you safe on the web — whether you're working, shopping on the internet, or gaming. In order to protect your internet security, the company offers a wide selection of products that can you and your information safe. One of the best tools for antivirus protection while you game on your PC is Kaspersky Anti-Virus, which guards you against ransomware, crypto lockers, hackers, and more.
Kaspersky has Gaming Mode in its products, starting with version 19 of home applications and version 6 of Small Office Security. Gaming Mode is enabled by default. When enabled, whichever Kaspersky product you're running won't do scans or updates, and it won't show notifications if the game (or another application) is opened full screen.
Game safely, with peace of mind, when you use antivirus protection from Kaspersky. Discover more today about how Kaspersky can help you game as safely and securely as possible.