Over the past few years, video games made a massive turn toward cyberspace. Online multiplayer is an overwhelmingly common, sometimes defining feature; players often host small servers themselves; and even single-player games benefit from online distribution.
However, while improved online platforms and internet infrastructure have paved the way for gaming innovations, they’ve also made for more serious virtual threats. Hacking, data and identity theft, and distributed denial of service (DDoS) all pose serious problems to gamers—and they have become alarmingly easy to carry out.
Fortunately, security measures have also improved. One of the more reliable forms of protection is the use of a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN allows a computer to connect to a server through an encrypted tunnel. This provides a higher level of privacy and various other benefits.
Privacy and Account Protection
When a computer connects using a VPN, its IP address is effectively replaced by an IP address from the server it’s using and all data sent between the two is encrypted. This means that any computer using a VPN is extremely difficult to keep under surveillance—even its ISP would be unable to scan any data packets it sends.
The main benefit this provides is that player data sent through game clients or related platforms will stay secure. This includes account passwords, contact details, and payment details for game purchases or in-game transactions. With this protection, gamers can rest assured that their accounts are safe, along with any in-game items they might have. And with many game items valued in real currency, this is a reassurance you’d be glad to have.
A side effect of having your data packets encrypted is that it would be harder for your ISP to mark you as a candidate for bandwidth throttling. ISPs usually throttle the connections of users with heavy data usage on services like gaming and streaming, supposedly to allow all their customers to have an even experience. If they can’t monitor your data use, you’ll be able to use their service unthrottled, as it’s meant to be.
VPN service providers typically have multiple servers in several countries. When you connect to one of these, taking on an IP address from it, you are effectively recognized as being in that region. This can get you access to certain gaming features, like earlier releases, region-specific servers, and so on.
Note, however, that many games and gaming platforms forbid this explicitly in their terms of service. If you’re found out, the game’s management would be well within their rights to sanction you.
Furthermore, when selecting a server to use with your VPN, you can choose one located close to a game’s server to get better latency.
DDoS attacks target specific IP addresses. As VPN would assign you an IP address, any DDoS attacks launched against you would go through their server. This means they would, theoretically, be able to filter the overwhelming traffic and eliminate the abusive volumes. In practice, however, DDoS mitigation is a complex matter. Each VPN will have different levels of protection in this regard.
For best results, take your time in vetting VPNs and pick a quality provider who can give you the benefits you need at a reasonable price.