Love it or hate it, there are few other cultural phenomena that have taken the world by storm as fast as Fortnite has. In the past two years since its release in 2017, the battle royale titan has racked up 250 million players – and it’s still growing strong, believe it or not. Despite this major success, or maybe because of it, Fortnite has garnered severe problems for its players as well. Mainly on the security side of things.
Multiplayer games have a long history of being used to target unsuspecting victims with online scams and malware. Fortnite, notably, is not exempt from phishing scams and other attacks thanks to its massive player base.
But what makes the attacks targeted at Epic Games’ battle royale stand out is their tenacity and pervasiveness. On top of that comes the fact that a relatively large part of Fortnite’s player base are children. An age group who is particularly susceptible to various forms of online attack.
Here’s a look at the top 3 security issues casting a shadow over the bright green pastures of Fortnite’s island. Further on, there are also a few tips on how players and parents can help protect their devices against malware, scams, and attacks. So don’t let others ruin that next Victory Royale; take a look and apply some of these suggestions to avoid becoming the next victim.
1 Scammers Keep Coming Back for More
Scammers will always take advantage of popular apps, games, and events to trick people into giving them what they want. They do it in all of your favorite MMOs, and they do it in just about every online game known to man. The same goes for Fortnite, where a whole host of scams circulate the web, trying to catch unfortunate souls unaware.
The biggest Fortnite scams revolve around V-Bucks (the in-game currency), and usually involve surveys or some other way to garner information. Scammers hook people with promises of free or cheaper V-Bucks, which they can then use to buy new skins and accessories.
There are no V-Bucks of course, and once people give away their credit card information or Fortnite credentials, it’s done. Scammers got what they wanted, and the person is left with no V-Bucks and a credit card fraud or a hacked account, or both.
Children are especially vulnerable to these scams, which is why it’s still working so well for Fortnite scammers. They’re impressionable enough to believe these sites (which often look very well-designed and convincing) enough to hand over their details.
It’s important to keep in mind that sites promising cheaper V-Bucks, and V-Bucks generators, are all fake. V-Bucks can be safely bought on the Fortnite website or in-game.
2 Epic’s Choice to Move the Android App off Google Play
After releasing Fortnite for Android, Epic Games decided to make the download available on their website rather than the Google Play Store. Various security experts have warned that this isn’t a wise move, and for a good reason.
Google may not force Android users to download apps solely off their store like Apple does, but it’s still a safer bet. Not only are the apps on the store scanned for malware, but it’s also a more central platform for users. When players need to search for the app themselves, they might accidentally install a fake copycat from the wrong site. This copycat app can have all sorts of malicious code that infects the phone once it’s installed.
The funny thing is, there’s no denying that this is a real threat since people were downloading fake Fortnite apps even before the game was released on Android. Criminals capitalized on the hype created by the announcement to release their copycat apps. These were downloaded by an unknown number of people who were then tricked into downloading even more apps.
3 Security Flaws Put Millions of People at Risk
Fortnite’s problems aren’t limited to the actions of outside actors. Just recently, a flaw was discovered in the game’s authentication process that put all of Fortnite’s players at risk. The researchers from Check Point Software Technologies who discovered it said that it allowed hackers to send a link to players. If they clicked on this link, it would give hackers access to the players’ accounts.
Once in, they could wreak various types of harm, like using the account to buy in-game items and then transfer these to other accounts. They also had full access to players’ conversations and could use it to exploit them or their friends. That data breach has now lead to a class-action suit against the Fortnite creators.
Epic Games quickly jumped to address the problem, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t affect players. Nor does it mean there won’t be other security issues in the future. And for a game with that big of a player base, any security issue can have catastrophic repercussions.
Taking Charge of Online Safety
In today’s world, cybersecurity needs to be a priority – even for gamers. This especially goes for those who play multiplayer games like Fortnite, which requires an internet connection to work. Many people prefer online gaming, but it does come with security concerns that players should be aware of and prepared for.
Here are a few of the security precautions that both Fortnite players and parents of kids who play Fortnite need to adopt:
- Fortnite is free, so there’s no need to download it from non-official sources. Whether it’s on PC, mobile, or console, always download the game from the official stores or website.
- Never click on links promising free or cheaper V-Bucks, or free in-game accessories.
- Do not give away any personal information to strangers online, not even game credentials. Parent’s need to monitor who their kids talk to in the in-game chat.
- Use a password manager to keep from using the same password on different accounts. Data breaches frequently occur because people reuse their old or compromised passwords across accounts.
- Install VPN software to help protect against various online attacks. A VPN keeps a player’s IP address anonymous and their connection safe by encrypting the game’s traffic. This prevents attack events like swatting and identity theft.
- Do not keep payment info stored on the site or game. Delete a payment method or any info every time after purchasing V-Bucks.
While Fortnite might be a popular and free game, playing it comes with several security risks. Players need to keep this in mind and adopt safer habits and security tools to protect themselves.
The threats will never go away, and criminals won’t stop trying their luck. But as long as Fortnite players take the necessary steps to stay out of harm’s way, there’s no reason not to keep enjoying the game.