Are you one of the 120 million active monthly users of Xbox Live? If so, chances are you haven’t put much thought into your security when gaming online. After all, Microsoft is a huge corporation that puts enough time into the protection of its users. And hacking and cybercrime only really apply to PC gamers, right? What could you possibly gain from console players?
Wrong. There are plenty of ways hackers can get your info while you’re enjoying playing Xbox online. Research from 2020 found that as many as 12% of gamers have had their ID stolen. That’s over one in ten! And if your identity is stolen, it can mean all sorts of bad things. That includes stolen money on your account, your data being sold to criminals, and people pretending to be you. In this guide, we show you how to avoid these things from happening as best as you can.
Choose two-factor authentication
Logging in and out of Xbox Live can be time-consuming – but it is there for a reason. Leaving yourself logged in and only using an email-password login method can leave your data exposed. This means a great weak spot for abuse by people interested in collecting exactly this.
Instead, turn on two-factor authentication. This involves providing an email address or phone number that’s used when you log in. If you try and log in from a new device or location, you must provide a code that’s emailed or texted to the address or number you’ve provided. Additionally, you will have to enter the code from your main device as well. This helps prevent unauthorized access, even if your password is compromised.
That way, if someone gets your login details, you have an extra line of defense against the hackers. As attackers are always looking to find a target with the least amount of resistance, adding this second layer of difficulty will put you in a good spot. And taking the extra minute before your session to enter your details will be worth it. Trust us.
Use a VPN
Using a virtual private network (VPN) for Xbox will encrypt your internet connection while you play. This can protect your personal information from being viewed and collected by hackers. Instead, it’s encrypted and shielded from access, keeping your data much safer while you’re online. The VPN encrypts your internet traffic and hides your IP address. Something, that is even more important when playing online on a regular, as they force you to connect to other players or servers. As a result, you shield your online activities and make it harder for hackers to track you. Again, adding more resistance.
Use strong passwords
Also important is the use of difficult-to-guess passwords – your first line of defense. Hackers will often use software that can generate and test many password combinations. Eventually, one may prove correct, letting them enter your account. And the generators are fast. The fewer characters and the more predictable it is, the easier they have it to crack it. This might sound like needless advice for those of us that are playing on a regular, but research couldn’t be more obvious. Have a look at the latest Nordpass “Most Common Passwords” study from 2022. Most common? “Password”. Second common? “123456”. Followed by “123456789”. Have you seen the amount of time it takes a hacker to get through this line of defense – if you can even call it that? Under a second. That’s no soldiers looking out for you, that’s a scarecrow being at lunch at best.
To stop this from happening, create a long password that’s at least 12 characters long. Put upper-case and lower-case letters in it, as well as numbers and special characters. And if possible, ensure it’s a randomised jumble of characters. Avoid recognisable patterns like birthdays, names, or phone numbers. That way, there is a good chance that hackers will give up trying to hack you and move on to easier prey. Most consoles and devices already force you to strengthen your password by default. For the Xbox, you will need it at least 8 characters strong.
Don’t share personal information
It’s very important to not share any personal information while you’re playing online on Xbox Live. Even if you’re with friends, exercise caution when chatting. Don’t talk about things like your full name, address, phone number, email, or bank details. Only one of these is often enough to find a trail toward you, track your location, and start to harass you. And if you think someone you’re playing with is acting suspiciously, don’t be afraid to report someone – even if it’s just a feeling. It is always better to have someone look at your hint from the outside perspective. Best case? There was nothing to worry about after all, but now you can be sure about it. Worst case – but still best case for you? There was something fishy after all. But this means you have protected yourself against someone malevolent. In most cases, things will turn out well – but remember the first statistic we looked at? 12% of users get their ID stolen. Sometimes people don’t need to crack your password. Sometimes they get everything they need by talking to you.
This also goes for suspicious links from unknown sources or emails. Avoid clicking those and don’t provide personal information. Even if you do know the sender, if the questions seem odd, there is a good chance your friend got hacked, too. Those links could lead to phishing scams, which could trick you into revealing even more of you.
Update your console
Finally, keep on top of new updates when using your console. The quicker you can get your software to the newest, strongest version provided by Microsoft, the better. That way, you’ll prevent hackers from being able to exploit known security flaws in your console. A lot of times the console’s update includes security patches. Vulnerabilities and threats are common, and staying up to date gives you the best protection you can get.
Keeping safe on Xbox might not be as fun as a round of Fortnite, but it’s an important part of staying safe online. Follow the tips above, and you can prevent cybercrime in the best way possible. Stay safe out there.