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Use Random Username to Protect Your Privacy

Do you know what’s an arduous quest to conquer in every multiplayer online game?

Believe it or not, for me, the answer is: creating a username. When you’re a gamer, finding out your favorite username is taken by others can be frustrating. The same feeling of disappointment applies to any online services that need a username. It’s difficult to come up with a username, probably more pressing than deciding what’s for lunch. But before we move on to the solution, let me ask, do you know the usernames you’re adopting in games may have privacy issues?

Username May Reveal Your Identity

Doxing, short for “dropping dox,” is an online attack wherein malicious actors dig up personal identifying information. Thus, exposing the real identities of people. In our case is behind a username. Doxing is a dangerous problem, much more when it could happen to children. 

Some gamers are not aware of the privacy issue behind a username. Some of the gamers you met online may use their real name in games. Doing this poses a risk, because this may allow the players you met in games to know your real identity.

For example, you argued with a teammate in an online game. That person may still harbor some anger after the match, and decided to find you on social media to harass you continuously.

Likewise, using a phone number as a username is even worse, as strangers may call you directly. Your name, phone number, and social security number may not conflict with another person’s username; but we strongly discourage you from using them as your username.

Why Not Use the Same Username?

Okay, now you know it’s dangerous to use personal identifying information as username, but why not use the same non-identifying username in different games?

It may be convenient to use the same username in every online game or service; however, hackers may target you by linking your accounts across different services. The more information gathered from you, the higher risk of account takeover.

Username Tactics 

While we understand the risks of using the same username, sometimes we disregard the danger because we want to be found easily. Convenience becomes the tradeoff when prioritizing privacy and safety.

We have defined three levels of username privacy. You can choose different strategies according to whom you’re playing with or the risk you can afford. If you are using a password manager, we recommend creating a random username by default, as it will keep you from those risks when gaming online.

Pros and Cons for Each Level

Privacy Checklist

  • For Random Username
    • Use a different password for each game
    • Use a password manager to keep your credentials
  • For Separate Username
    • All items in Level 1
    • No personal identifying data on username (such as name, phone number, birth date, social security number, etc.)
  • For Single Username
    • All items in Level 1 and Level 2
    • Check all social media personal profiles exposed to public, and ensure there’s no privacy leakage (like where you live, education, job, etc.)
    • Check all social media friends’ lists should be private
    • Check all social media public posts, and make sure there are no disclosed private data
    • Check all social media photos and videos
    • Check other services that may reveal private data

No matter which tactics you choose, remember to evaluate the checklist for each tactic.

Generally, the more privacy you sacrifice, the more items you need to check. If you choose to use the same username across different platforms, you’ll need to check all your accounts that are visible on the Internet to make sure there’re no private data leaked to strangers. Trend Micro ID Security can help check if your private data is on the dark web. Profile, friends list, and public posts on your social media are part of your data. If you don’t want to use a random username, at least use a separate username for gaming. Also, you can use Trend Micro Maximum Security to secure your privacy on social media and shield you from dangerous websites that can steal personal data.

In this digital era, privacy is not an option, it is a priority. Your username matters, so choose it wisely.

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