We've talked about how to secure your Warcraft account, but no matter how strong your password, your account can still be compromised if you don't practice safe computer habits. So just what makes safe computing? It's about keeping your computer itself secure from threats by making sure you have updated software and a solid antivirus program to keep out viruses and keyloggers. But even a secure system won't do you much good if you fall prey to a scam -- so safe computing isn't just keeping your computer secured, it's also about knowing how to stay safe online.
We admit, it sounds kind of hokey, but online security will help your account stay yours, whether you're talking about World of Warcraft or a credit card. So if you're not quite sure what we're getting at when we talk about safe computing, spend a few minutes to read this article. We'll walk you through the basics of what you need to know to keep your accounts in your hands.
Keeping your computer secure
Making sure your computer is safe is a crucial step towards keeping your account secure. Blizzard has a thorough security checklist but we'll start you out with the parts we think are most crucial to your computer's security.
Make sure your software is up to date. Software that's behind the times can have vulnerabilities that can be exploited to get access to your computer and your account. Make sure to keep your operating system up to date with the latest software patches. Your next priority is making sure your browser is up to date: whatever you're running, make sure it's the latest version. And for any other software you use, it's never a bad idea to keep it up to date. Look into whether your apps have automatic software updates that you can enable to make this easier.
Make sure you have antivirus software running at all times. It doesn't matter what kind of computer you're using -- yes, we're talking to you, Apple aficionados -- you should have an antivirus package running. If you have an antivirus application already, you should make sure it's up to date and scanning regularly. And if you don't, stop reading right now and go download an antivirus app. We like Avast! for Windows and Sophos for Mac, both of which are free for personal use.
Don't fall prey to scams
The best way to avoid scams? Knowing what scams look like so you can dodge them when they pop up. So be scam-smart! The best place to educate yourself is Blizzard itself: Battle.net's account security section has a page filled with information about how accounts are stolen, including sample scams and phishing emails. Here's are warning signs to look out for in different situations:
In emails: Even if they look like they come from Blizzard, you should be suspicious. Scammers have a lot of practice at mimicking Blizzard's style. Keep a sharp eye on anything that looks fishy, like grammar errors, links to non-Blizzard websites (anything other than Blizzard.com or Battle.net), or emails that come from somewhere other than Blizzard.com or Battle.net. Also -- and we're going to be repeating this -- Blizzard will never ask for your login information or password anywhere except your account login screen. So if you get an email asking for your password, no matter what it says, it's not from Blizzard. If you're concerned about the legitimacy of an email you've received, you should contact Blizzard customer support directly.
In game: If someone's talking to you in World of Warcraft and claiming to be a Blizzard employee or game master, there's an easy way to tell: Blizzard employees will have a blue Blizzard logo in their messages. For in-game mail, it will be in the upper left of the mail window while for chat it will appear immediately to the left of any messages. And again: Blizzard will never ask you for your password or other account information, so don't give it out to anyone who for it in-game.
On websites: Whatever a website promises you, don't enter your password or other account information unless your browser's address bar reads Blizzard.com or Battle.net. Like we've mentioned, any other website asking for your password isn't Blizzard and chances are they're trying to steal your account.
When downloading: Make sure you're downloading add-ons from trustworthy sources. We like Curse and WoWInterface -- and just like with Blizzard, when you're downloading something from one of these websites, make sure your browser's address bar says you're at curse.com or wowinterface.com. Also steer clear from applications that claim to play the game for you or help you get gold or levels: applications like this are often a way for hackers to steal your information. And even if they aren't, they're against the terms of service and could get your account banned.
Above all, if something sounds too good to be true, then it's very likely to be a scammer trying to lure you in. If you have an amazing offer claiming to be from Blizzard or anyone else, check it out -- a quick web search should do -- to see if there are others calling it a scam. And if you're ever uncertain as to whether a message is being sent to you from Blizzard, get in touch with them directly to verify. It might be a nuisance, but it will be a lot less annoying in the long run than having your account hacked: trust us on that!
We hope you'll join us in practicing safe computing: your account will thank us!
Just because you're a newbie doesn't mean you can't bring your A-game to World of Warcraft! Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from the seven things every newbie ought to know to how to get started as a healer or as a tank.