Discover & Innovate: Online game links are insecure

Discover & Innovate: Online game links are insecure

Despite the enjoyment of playing games with people around the world, the way the game server collects players' data can leave you wide open to hackers

Playing online games is wonderful? There are many online games available in the entertainment market these days, and playing online games is becoming more and more popular. But have you found that doing so has an adverse effect on your information security?

Technically, games developers design their online games using the client-server approach. There is a file server (called game server) residing on the developers' controlled area. This area may be the developers' office or the data centre.

This file server contains the online games' central repository, which holds all game players' login credentials and personal details including current IP addresses, nicknames and games' scores. The game players would take the client's role accessing to the game server, which requires the players' login credentials.

After a player logs in to the game server, their current IP address is recorded for subsequent data communication between the game server and game players. Theoretically, instantaneous interaction among players can be achieved through the interaction of a particular game player and the game server as well as the interaction of another game player and the same game server. In other words, all data communication must be done via the central repository of the game server.

However, online games technology has taken a great stride forward recently. Some advanced online games allow players to possess the power of peer-to-peer data communication. Simply speaking, any two game players can be connected directly, with the game server as the monitoring device and scorekeeper. This is possible because the game server delivers the IP address of each player to the other client's game component for connection.

This is insecure for game players because there may be hackers inside the game-playing world. If one of the game players is a hacker, he will find out the IP address of his target victim. He can easily hack into the victim's computers. The possible hacking methods include delivering worms and viruses or accessing the victim's computer secretly and collecting some private information.

Even worse, some game players can use "automatic mode" in online games. This powerful function means game players don't have to operate the game themselves, which is more dangerous because hackers have more time to stay inside the victim's computer without the knowledge of the gamer.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Onlinegame links are insecure

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