It's finally here! After a long wait, the PS5 will be hitting shelves in retail stores and online markets on November 19th, and plenty of folks will be eager to get their hands on the console and enjoy super-fast load times, upgraded graphics, and a whole host of blockbuster launch titles.
Unfortunately, cybercriminals aren't going to take the day off just because it's launch day. In this guide, we'll take a look at some common methods employed by these crooks, as well as the best ways to purchase a PS5 securely.
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A cybercriminal can target plenty of assets when it comes to video game scams. Think about it: we spend real-world money to buy games, currency, and cosmetic add-ons. So, be on the lookout for the following scams.
You'll have seen your fair share of phishing scams if you've been around on the internet for a while. A scammer will craft an email with a link inside, usually asking the recipient to confirm their login details. If the link is clicked, the recipient will be taken to a fake sign-in page where they can input their username and password. Obviously, it's all a ploy to steal this info and assume control of the recipient's account.
A lot of games now come with their own virtual stores, where you can pick up extra outfits, abilities, weapons, and online currency. A cybercriminal will instead try to get you to visit a fraudulent third-party website. The site might look legitimate, but it won't be – you'll hand over your financial information to a crook and never actually get the new skin or weapon pack that you paid for.
Your IP address can reveal a lot of information about you, and every internet-enabled device has one – consoles included. Scammers target player IP addresses in order to figure out their real name and physical location. Armed with these details, the crook can then go on to wreak havoc with your gaming and bank accounts.
Shady mobile apps
Scammers are not above developing entire apps in the hopes of snatching your information. They'll create a mobile version of a game, or a companion app, that actually installs malware when downloaded.
Tips for staying safe
So, cybercriminals have some pretty savvy ways of getting their hands on your personal details – but it's not all doom and gloom! Below, we take a look at some straightforward steps you can take to ensure that your shiny new PS5 stays secure.
Adjust your settings
One of the quickest, most simple, and effective ways to ensure no crook can access your account is by keeping your console up to date. Criminals target known weaknesses in software, so make sure you've got the latest version installed, and switch on automatic updates.
Stick to trusted websites
If you're planning to buy any DLC or game add-ons, always use the official website, and stay away from links that redirect you elsewhere. It's a good idea to check that any site you visit is legit – so keep an eye out for a padlock seal in the search bar, a URL that starts with "HTTPS", and trust seals.
A green padlock only shows that the connection between a user and a website is secure (not the website itself). Always check the reviews of a website to verify its authenticity.
Don't share sensitive information
This one might sound like a no-brainer, but it's worth reiterating! Keep your identifiable information to yourself – this includes your name, address, and bank details. There's never a reason to share this information online. In fact, you should ignore any requests for this info. Legitimate companies will not ask you to verify personal details via email or direct messages, after all.
Step-up your passwords
A strong password can save you from a world of hassle, so make sure that your PSN password contains a nice mix of upper and lowercase characters, as well as some numbers and symbols. This makes it far more difficult for a hacker to guess. We'd also recommend using two-factor authentication, which adds a layer of security to your account by requiring that you provide two forms of identification to log in (probably a password and a short code sent to a mobile number).
Invest in a VPN
There's no better tool for staying secure online. A VPN encrypts all incoming and outgoing traffic to ensure that no crook can intercept your IP address and access your account. When you connect to a VPN server, you're assigned an entirely new IP address, making it seem as though you're accessing the internet from the location you chose.
Buying a PS5 – how to make a secure purchase
Before you get stuck into your games, you'll need to actually buy a PS5 console – and this comes with its own set of risks. Luckily, there are measures you can take to prevent falling prey to shopping scams and dodgy deals.
Go with your gut
We'd recommend sticking to online retailers that you know and trust – particularly if you've purchased items from them before. If you do choose to buy your PS5 from an unfamiliar site, you must check out user reviews, ensure there's a padlock next to the search bar, and that the site's URL begins with "HTTPS".
Study up on returns
First and foremost, determine whether the site you're using actually does offer a returns policy. Any retailer that doesn't should be treated with caution. In the unlikely event that your PS5 arrives damaged or otherwise not how you expected, knowing the company's returns policy will make your life that much easier.
Avoid shopping on the go
Just because you can buy a PS5 on your phone in a McDonald's doesn't mean that you should. Public WiFi is notoriously insecure and often a hotbed for criminal activity. It also goes without saying that you should be wary of typing out passwords or bank details in public – anyone could be standing behind you, after all!
Check out your statements
Once you've taken the plunge and purchased your PS5, head over to your online banking account and take a look at your latest statement. Make sure the prices match up, and that you're not being charged for anything you didn't buy.
Final thoughts and a chance to win!
The last thing anyone wants to worry about when they're in the middle of a game is whether a scammer is after their account. However, it's well worth making sure your passwords are strong and your console is up to date, and being aware of some of the more insidious methods a scammer can use. So long as you have some common sense and a bit of caution, you can enjoy your PS5 'til the sun comes up, safe in the knowledge that you're secure – just remember to eat, drink, and sleep occasionally.
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