The more we turn to the digital age, and the greater our interest in competitive gaming becomes, the more pronounced our need for protection systems. Both for the individual player and their opponents, eSports is a strong illustration of many of our best safety systems in action. Here, systems like Steam Guard work to protect user information, and on a larger scale than we might think. So, why are these factors so important in today’s environment, and what can they help protect against in the ongoing security battle?
“Information security” (CC BY 2.0) by Ervins Strauhmanis
Steam Guard for Players
On the most external level, the software called Steam Guard acts as a gatekeeper for user accounts. Through the use of two-factor authentication, the basic idea of Steam Guard is that a player needs more than their login and password to sign in, they also need an associated device like a cell-phone. If you have Steam and haven’t turned this on already, you should at least consider it, where simple how to turn on Steam Guard guides can get you started.
Systems like Steam Guard serve important purposes just for general use, but this importance grows even more so when introducing eSports accounts into the mix. User accounts for eSports are more than just data, they’re points of pride, of achievement, and statements of player personalities. Seeing these accounts lost to hackers doesn’t just mean a lack of access, it can also involve emotional and financial distress.
Additionally, lapses of security from one system like Steam could also have additional problems in outside online accounts. As much as we like to try otherwise, the multitude of online passwords required by so many different websites often make us rely on duplicates for memory’s sake. The problem here is that if a few of these accounts are compromised, it could be possible for AI to determine patterns and compromise many more. What started as the hack of one eSports account could turn into something far greater.
Game Hacking Protection
Just like any other sports, eSports can have a problem with cheating. This happens on both the casual and professional levels and is a constant concern for online developers. Cheating alone is bad enough, but the problems with cheating software can go much deeper.
Overwhelmingly, those who use cheats in eSports do not develop the cheats themselves. Purchasing them on the underground market means that a lot of the time the buyers don’t know exactly what they’re getting. Even if a cheat works to the point where it doesn’t get the player immediately banned, it can still come with piggybacking malware making the program a personal threat.
This could mean keyloggers stealing account information from one computer, or it could extend to worms that work their way through entire networked systems. Anti-cheat software is great at stopping games from being hacked, but the other side of the equation separate from games is a little out of their wheelhouse.
“Esports” (CC BY 2.0) by a.canvas.of.light
The big picture here is that while systems like Steam Guard and anti-cheat software can do a lot to prevent gaming and account related damage, at some point the player needs to pick up the baton. Keeping safe in eSports means taking all the care you can in-game, while also ensure that your greater system is secure from outside influence. At least, with modern free scans, this is a fairly easy task for anyone with digital experience. The devices of those who choose to actively cheat though, might have a more difficult time.