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Keep Your Account Safe!!

Posted On: January 20th, 2010

Posted By: Tolero

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Senior Community Specialist
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With a new year upon us, it’s a good time to take some precautions to make sure that your game account is secure! Here are some of the common ways that players end up with compromised accounts, and tips on keeping your account safe!

Recycled Passwords and Usernames

With so many websites and computer-based interactions asking for a password, it’s tempting to use the same one to make it easier to remember and keep track of. This is a major way that accounts get compromised! If you’re a player who has a habit of this, I urge you to at least change your password to something unique for each thing you care about that has a login (like DDO)! Very often users will recycle their password or login at things like:

  • Fansites
  • Social networks
  • Browser-based games
  • *ahem* Adult memberships

On the surface these places are fun and seem legit. Member interactions can be happening like clock work, everyone’s having fun, no signs of anything “bad” going on. Behind the scenes though, the user name and passwords are harvested from registrations by the site creators, and then one of two things happen.

  1. They may sell the list to unscrupulous parties/organizations
  2. They may do the unscrupulous activities themselves.

What happens in either case is the list of harvested usernames and passwords is tried against bank logins, game logins, network logins, and pretty much anything that could be noteworthy that calls for a username/password. They do this in the hope that of that collection of names they gathered to their site, some of them are people who use the same login and password for OTHER things in their life - important things! They use the list over and over hoping for a “nibble” on something - whether it’s a bank acocunt they can plunder, an email they can take over, or a video game account they can abuse. So don’t let yourself be one the “some people” who recycle usernames/passwords and end up with a compromised game account (or worse)!

Does this mean you shouldn’t participate in fansites or social networks? Does it mean every fansite or social network is secretly someone out to cheat you? Of course not! But what it does mean is it’s best to be safe than sorry and use a unique username and password when you register for something just so there’s no question. It may be a pain to keep track of all of it, but it’s more secure and you never have to fear the friendly neighborhood fansite again!

The One You Know

Sometimes a user will see a charge on their credit card for something they don’t recognize. With all the hubbub about identiy theft, people are always quick to assume that it is a hacker from the depths of the blackmarket who bustificated their computer security. More often than not… it’s someone you know. It’s difficult to believe that Grandpa George, Sister Suzie, Daughter Debbie, Roommate Robert, Neighbor Ned, Husband Henry, or Girlfriend Gina could EVER be the culprit. After all, friends and relatives love you and would never “steal” from you, right?

The trouble is often the people you love/hang out with don’t see it as “stealing” either. They often treat it as “borrowing with intent to repay”. In the case of people who live with you, they may feel your account or personal information is “part of the house domain” and that they aren’t doing anything wrong by using it even though it’s yours. This leaves you holding the short end of the stick when you suddenly see charges that you didn’t want or items on your character turn up missing.

If you see unexpected activity on your account (missing items, characters appearing/disappearing, Turbine Points going missing, website activity you don’t remember posting) or bank records (extra charges, double charges, payments for things you didn’t authorize), it’s always a good idea to inquire with the people you know first. They’re likely to confess to the “borrowing” and the two of you can work towards repayment.

Here are some ways to reduce temptation by your friends and relatives so you never have to have those kinds of discussions:

  • Keep credit cards and secure information in safe places. (This includes that purse you always toss on the kitchen counter after school, or the wallet you set on the end table after work!). Leaving things laying around means it’s easier access for them to “borrow”.
  • Don’t share your usernames or passwords with others, even temporarily! We’ve all been tempted to show our friend something and let them use our account because it’s “just this once”. Don’t do it! You might think they won’t remember, but they can and will.
  • Change your password often! It never hurts to do this even if you’ve been diligent.
  • Don’t leave bills or other important paperwork laying out in plain sight, even in your home!
  • Make important calls that involve passwords in private - don’t just say your password out loud where prying ears can overhear you.
  • Don’t leave passwords and login information written down (especially around your computer)! This is very tempting because it can be tricky to keep track of all that information. Unfortunately you might remind someone other than yourself of how to access your important stuff!
  • Be sure to explore unusual activity sooner rather than later - it’s easier to catch and correct if you do so while it’s happening, and not after it has caused a major problem or cost you dearly!

It doesn’t mean that your friends and relatives are bad people! Often times they just think that you’ll “understand” that they didn’t mean anything malicious by it, or they think it “doesn’t make a difference” because you’re in the same household, and so forth. Whether it’s spending too much money or selling an item of yours that you didn’t want to sell, the unwanted activity can cause you undo stress. Try to be careful with your personal information to avoid having to confront a loved one about unwanted account activity.

Naughty Things

I may love all my players, but I’m not going to pretend that they’re all angels and never do anything naughty,  download things they should not, or go places that they know better than to go to. Unfortunately it happens…and what ALSO happens is people end up with compromised accounts as a result.

After all, the place hosting that torrent of cheaty stuff, pirated software, illegal pr0n, or copyright-breaking multimedia has nothing to lose by stealing your account from you (I mean really, they’re already breaking the law to begin with in many cases). Where are you going to turn? “Hi, I was downloading some illegal stuff and it had a bunch of malware and keyloggers in it…” of course you’re not going to admit to that typically. They know that too, and will prey on you as a result.

  • Never download things from places you don’t trust or open executible files that seem suspicious.
  • Don’t buy gold, use powerleveling services, or download game hacks.
  • Avoid going to websites that deal in the seedy underbelly of the internet conducting illegal activities.
  • ESPECIALLY avoid going to those places on computers that contain important stuff like personal information!!
  • Ultimately, just try to avoid the whole mess altogether by not going to naughty places to begin with. That’s the safest way.

I hope everyone has a safe and secure year, and after you’re done reading this, CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD!!11!1! It never hurts to do so!

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