How To: Avoid Being Hacked
Earlier this week, a dangerous Trojan made it's way around World of Warcraft accounts. This virus was especially sinister as it was able to enter player's accounts even if they had an authenticator. The entire WoW community was on edge and for good reason. Thankfully, a solution has since been found and players should no longer be at risk for this particular Trojan.
Despite the fact that this threat is over, now is not the time to become complacent. While your account is your pride and joy, for many, it is simply a way to make a profit. We all know the standards to help prevent these criminals from getting their grubby hands on our accounts, but sometimes we become a bit forgetful of that fact. Then along comes a startling reminder, like the recent Trojan, that we need to be constantly doing everything possible to make sure our accounts are safe.
Below you will find some basic things you can do to ensure that your account never ends up in hands other than your own. Many of these you might already know, but in light of the recent Trojan outbreak, a fresh reminder never hurts:
Don't Share Accounts
One of the first and most vital rules of making sure your account is safe it to ensure that you are the only person logging onto it. While it may seem appealing to hand out your password to trusted friends, family, or guild mates, the more people who know your password and use your account, the more chances you have to find you have been hacked. Even if you fully trust the person, that doesnt mean that they couldn't download a virus or fall prey to any number of scams. Be sure that you are the only person able to access your account at all times. Anyone that insists you share your account with them doesn't really have your best interests at heart.
Know the Website
Most WoW players at one time or another have browsed websites for information about the game. Scammers take advantage of this knowledge and set up malicious websites designed to target your browser's weak spots and install harmful content. One of the most common sites impersonated is the Blizzard website. Sometimes these sites are obvious, but other times they will look exactly like the site you were trying to reach.
To prevent becoming the victim of a malicious website always double check the URL. If the URL varies from the norm, it probably is a malicious website. Even when given the link by a friend, carefully examine the link. Also check to be sure your antivirus software is up to date and turned on. If you feel that you have recently visited a malicious website run a full antivirus scan and change your game password.
While this many seem like common sense, many people still make passwords that are ridiculously easy to guess. This is a fatal mistake. While it may be easier for you to remember, it also means it is far too easy for someone else to get into your account. Don't use dictionary words, names, special dates, or anything similar. When creating a password use a combination of numbers, symbols, and letters in order to make it harder to just guess. A mix of both capital and lower case letters is also a great idea.
Also, while it may be tempting, don't reuse passwords across accounts and services. If you do and your password is figured out, the consequences could be catastrophic. Losing your WoW account is bad enough, but can you imagine someone also having access to your Amazon account? Netflix?
Finally, always remember that Blizzard staff will absolutely NEVER ask for your password. I mean ever. Not via phone, e-mail, or in-game message. It will simply never happen. Anyone claiming to be a Blizzard employee who asks for your password is, without a doubt, a fake. Don't be deceived.
If you don't have one of these little beauties already, you need to get with the program. While the latest Trojan managed to get around the authenticator, they are still an essential part of making your account as secure as it can be. You can choose to buy a dedicated unit from the Blizzard Store or download the free app for your iPhone or Android. The Authenticator will help to protect all your Blizzard games from unwanted access.
While adding an Authenticator will mean that you have to enter an extra code on top of your username and password every time you log in, it is totally worth it. Especially considering that hackers will often add an authenticator to your account to make it that much harder for you to get it back. Adding one before you get hacked will beat these nefarious folks to the punch and give you an extra layer of security that you don't want to do without.
World of Warcraft is special because it allows players to download and add a variety of addons to the game. However, hackers try to take advantage of this by putting viruses and other malware into player-made addons. While this is scary, it doesn't mean you shouldn't download addons. Instead, be extremely careful. Only download from well known and reputable sources and if an addon asks you to download an executable file, abort immediately. To be extra safe, scan all addons with your antivirus software after they have been downloaded.
Avoid Sketchy E-mails/In-Game Messages
One of the most common techniques used to obtain players accounts is mass messages sent out either in game or to e-mails. These messages can vary in quality, going from convincing to utterly preposterous. These messages usually instruct the player to go to a website that is similar to Blizzard's. Once there, they get you to type in your password and it is all over.
To prevent this, read these messages carefully. Do they seem legit? Is the grammar/spelling correct? Does the link given match up to Blizzard's official website? If you have any doubts at all, there is a good chance that this is a scam. Also keep in mind, Blizzard will NEVER ask for your password or login information. These types of messages will usually make urgent appeals saying your account is under investigation or make offers that may seem too good to be true. Don't fall for it. When opening an e-mail like this, always be suspicious and err on the side of caution.
Everyone should have antivirus software on their computer without being told...right? Wrong! There are plenty of people out there who either don't have antivirus software on their computers or have it and have it turned off. If you are going to be on the internet at all, you need antivirus software. Period. Going without it is just plain stupid.
You can choose to buy it or choose from the plethora of free programs that are available. Ask your friends what they use for recommendations. The key here is to keep it running and keep it updated. Turning off your antivirus software or not having it at all is just plain irresponsible.
That wraps up our list of things you can do to avoid being hacked in World of Warcraft. Remember, none of these methods are foolproof. You must be constantly vigilant and aware. Malware is lurking out there on the interwebs and hackers are constantly coming up with new and inventive ways to hide it. By following these rules, we can at least say that we tried our best.
If you do find yourself a victim of scammers, report it as quickly as possible. This way Blizzard can jump into action before (hopefully) too much damage is done. Run a full virus scan on your computer, change your passwords, and try to pinpoint what you could have been the cause of the breech.
Have you ever had your account hacked yourself? How did it happen? Do you have any helpful tips for other players to prevent their accounts from being hacked? Share your suggestions and experiences with us in the comments section below.