Security takes a backseat for uninterrupted, video game marathons

If you have ever found yourself playing one of your favorite video games over a 24-hour period – more or less continuously – chances are you’re an enthusiastic gamer. A very enthusiastic gamer.

And you’re not alone. New research from ESET, which polled over 500 gamers, found that 6% of respondents have spent around a full-day immersed in a virtual world, while 10% have admitted spending between 12-24 hours engrossed in video games.

Now, while we appreciate the brilliance of video games, which include the recent location-based augmented reality success story Pokémon Go and the long-running and ever-popular online multiplayer World of Warcraft, these findings are worrying.

“Gaming is highly addictive and it is no wonder so many respondents from our study admit to playing them for so long.”

“Gaming is highly addictive and it is no wonder so many respondents from our study admit to playing them for so long,” commented Mark James, a security specialist at ESET.

“However, being able to successfully balance [gaming with] school or work and friends and family obligations is crucial. I would never recommend anyone spend more time in virtual worlds than they do in the real world.”

Interestingly, the survey suggests that for the most part, most gamers do just that. ESET’s research showed, for example, that 83% of people will spend, on average, around two hours a day playing their favorite video game.

While that is certainly positive – in that it’s a reasonable amount of time to allocate to a hobby/activity (much as you’d watch a movie or read a book in the evening) – there are some other troubling stats, particularly when it comes to gamer security (or a lack of it).

For example, over half of respondents (52%) said that they do not use security software on their gaming computers. This is problematic, as there are plenty of serious threats out there, many of which now specifically target gamers who are trying to have fun online.

There are numerous reasons for this lapse in security. This includes it not being perceived as necessary (20%) – i.e. they don’t need to – being irritated by popups (13%); finding that security software slows down their computer (12%); and because it interrupts the gaming experience (8%).

shutterstock_200516597_Dejan Stanic Micko

Gamers want a seamless gaming experience, so much so they’re willing to compromise their own safety.

GameaholicBased on the above, it appears that we have some way to go in changing people’s attitudes to video game safety. Consider this: even when security is initially enabled, 36% of gamers will actively switch off their security software if they find it to be slowing down their computer.

“It is definitely not a wise move to turn off a security solution because you feel it is interrupting your gaming session,” noted James. “Internet security is your first line of defence [against cybercriminals] and should not be switched off or removed for any reason whatsoever.”

Here’s an example, as highlighted by ESET’s expert security specialist. Let’s say you turn off your security software – you’re basically now extremely vulnerable to being compromised. In such an instance, “the risk of malware stealing your login credentials is massively increased”.

If cybercriminals are able to do this, then they can go further and use your account for all sorts of malicious activities, including “botting and or gold/item farming”. Often, at least in the early stages, all of this can happen without you ever being aware of it.

“While there’s a good chance you will get your account back after it’s been banned, providing you can prove it was compromised, it’s the downtime that causes so much hassle,” James concluded.

If this article has made you rethink your approach to security, check out some of our other content on safe gaming.

There is plenty of sound advice on offer to ensure that you’re able to enjoy a  gaming experience that is safe and secure. Just be sure to take a break every now and again!


Author , ESET

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