This week, we’re going to be looking at staying secure and safe when using a computer. Today, we look at how you can protect your WoW account.
There are so many stories floating about to do with being hacked it’s unbelievable. The consequences vary; losing all the gear / money from your characters is bad enough considering the work you put into them, but if you happen to be a guild officer and the hacker gains access to your guild bank, being hacked will affect many more people than just you. Yes, GMs can often return lost items and money, but this isn’t true for 100% of cases and it’s not worth the worry and stress. So how can we prevent our accounts from being compromised?
There are many ways of protecting yourself. The first and most simple way is to take your WoW account and turn it into a Battle.net account. Indeed, you will be required to do this in order to keep playing after November 11th, and personally I think this is a brilliant move. Battle.net accounts not only give greater functionality and will allow you to make use of the Battle.net service features, but they are vastly more secure and more protected from being broken into. Karatheya at Cold Comfort has a good post on the subject here, discussing all the FAQs to do with the conversion.
Another ridiculously easy way of protecting yourself is to get an authenticator. Getting one of these will make your account virtually immune to hacks, provided you keep ahold of it. Why? Well, to gain access to your account, the assailant would not only need your username and password, but also your unique authenticator, because its code (which you need to log in) changes every 30 seconds or so. Authenticators come in two types – actual little pieces of plastic with a screen, and smartphone apps. The physical authenticators cost a small amount and can be bought from the Blizzard store, and the apps vary – I believe the iPhone software is free while getting it for a different kind of phone may cost a little. There really is no downside to getting an authenticator; the main issue would be that if you lost it, you wouldn’t be able to log in. This is only true for a few hours however, or possibly less – just as long as it takes for you to phone up Blizzard and get them to remove it by giving them some personal details.
Having a strong password is also something which should be high on your list of priorities. While WoW / Battle.net passwords are not case sensitive and don’t accept special characters like !?#£$% (I don’t think), they do accept both letters and numbers, and any decent password should be at least 10 characters long, preferably nearer to 20 to avoid being discovered by a brute force attack (where a computer tries every possible combination of letters and numbers until the correct one is chosen). Obviously, your password should not be anything obvious like a name or date, nor should it be a word which can be found in a dictionary. Make sure to change your password regularly, like showering, and don’t use the same password for multiple things, as tempting as this may be. If someone discovers your password to one thing, it could open the way to others.
Lastly, you should never share your account details with anyone, because it’s plain stupid. That friend you give your details to today could have fallen out with you by tomorrow! Not only this but account sharing is against the ToS (the Terms of Service, that long piece of writing nobody ever reads). Linked to this, playing on a shared computer which will save your details isn’t clever – so make sure the little ‘Remember Account Name’ box is unchecked – and inputting your details into a website you don’t trust is an absolute no-no. There are a lot of websites and emails out there which look very official, but please make sure they are in fact from Blizzard before you do anything. If in any doubt, phone the company and ask “Did you send me this email?”. Websites other than wow-europe.com, worldofwarcraft.com or Blizzard.com are potentially fakes and you need to be very careful.
See you tomorrow for more safety hints, tips and tricks, and feel free to leave your own advice in the comments.