Online privacy concerns have generated a lot of buzz in the media lately. Tracking cookies, privacy abuses on Facebook and Pinterest, location-based services that give away more than web users would like to share with their peers – all have made headlines and raised the issue of stricter online privacy regulation.
Now, another online phenomenon seems to be subject to online privacy abuse: World of Warcraft, one of the most – if not the most – popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), with more than 9 million subscribers.
Are you a World of Warcraft fan? Can’t wait to get home and play? Or do you have a kid that would happily give up a day at Disneyland just to play WoW…
What you need to know about WoW privacy
It was discovered that the screenshots a player takes with WoW’s internal screenshot tool are automatically watermarked, and the watermark reports the account ID, a timestamp and the IP address of the current WoW realm. It is only natural that a game developer knows a player’s behavior within the game, but the existence of this watermark highlights the fact that users are trackable even outside the game, and without their knowledge or consent.
According to a Ownedcore forum post published earlier this month, the data in the watermark can be easily decrypted by malicious hackers. They could use it to identify which user account holds which characters, stalk users, devise targeted phishing scams or even sell it to specialized phishers.
What you need to do
Knowledge is power. Now that you know what you’re exposed to while playing WoW, you may want to delete all your JPG WoW screenshots from any site you’ve posted them on. Also, in the future, you may want to create screenshots with an external tool. If you still want to use the WoW internal screenshot tool, change the screenshot quality level to 10 to avoid the watermarking.
If your children are the WoW fans and you want to keep them protected from such threats, talk to them about the game, develop a better understanding of the rules together and install extensive parental controls, as an extra security measure. BullGuard’s comes with extensive parental controls, as well as antiphishing, among several other security features.
What’s your take on online privacy regulations? Share your thoughts below.