We all know that there are many risks on the internet. We were all told not to go to sketchy sites or click on strange links. Malware and other viruses are well-known problems that can happen when you use the internet. We usually think of computers and phones as being vulnerable, but we often forget that other things can also connect to the internet.
We use the online features of today’s game consoles. Whether we use them to play games with friends or to browse the web, they are online. Technically, a virus can attack anything that is online. Even though these digital threats can happen on our online consoles, they are not the same as computer viruses.
Can Game Consoles Get Viruses?
In short, yes, game consoles can be broken into. Malicious software can be found on anything that connects to the internet. But the viruses that hurt your computer aren’t the same as the ones that hurt your console.
Viruses need code that works with the computer’s operating system (OS). Each game system has its own operating system (OS). In other words, the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One/Series X, and PlayStation 4/5 all use different operating systems.
If a hacker wanted to get into consoles, they’d have to write code for each one. If you’re not careful, a few different viruses can get on your console. Of course, these viruses aren’t that common compared to all the other bad software your computer has to deal with.
Why are viruses for consoles so rare?
It’s just not worth it to make viruses for consoles. Hackers usually want to get something from you by infecting your devices. Think about all the private information you put online (your banking information, contact, social security number, ID, etc.). If they can’t find any saved information on your computer, they might try to track your keystrokes or force you to give them your information.
For hackers to make the most money, they should try to get as many people as possible to download their program. To reach more people, it would make sense for them to focus on systems that a lot of people use often. Targeting computer operating systems just makes more sense.
Even though game consoles are popular, the number of people who own and regularly use computers is much larger. There is already a big difference between computer systems, partly because some are more popular than others (Macs are less vulnerable to malware as there are more Windows computers).
Even if we don’t count how many people use each device, game consoles aren’t as good of a platform to focus on. Most of the time, you don’t type in nearly as much sensitive information as you would on your phone or computer. The amount of online shopping and banking that someone does from their laptop is much more than the amount of digital games they buy.
Aside from payment information, consoles don’t really need any other personal information. If a hacker wants to steal your identity or get their hands on your social security card, it makes sense for them to go after other platforms. This doesn’t mean that there are never any viruses on consoles. Malicious software that targets video game consoles is possible, but you probably won’t find any.
There is almost no chance that a hacker would spend time and money making a virus for a platform that wouldn’t benefit them much. This doesn’t mean that gaming consoles can’t be used to trick people. There are other ways that bad people can use consoles as a way to take advantage of you.
Scammers can get your personal information in other ways besides through viruses. Catfishing is a common trick used on gaming sites, especially in forums. Through fake links and phishing, people try to trick people out of their money. Even when playing online games, you should always be safe online.
How do I keep my console in good condition?
Keeping a device healthy and free of viruses means making sure it is safe to use the internet. Follow these simple suggestions:
- Don’t agree to be friends with strange people. Online gaming forums have bots a lot of the time. Anyone who has used the PlayStation Network has probably gotten a friend request from an account that was clearly fake. On any social media site, don’t add people you don’t know.
- Don’t click on links that look sketchy. Even if you decide to read their messages, you should never click on the links they send you. These might have viruses in them.
- Don’t tell people online anything about yourself. Even though this has little to do with viruses, it is an important part of basic internet safety. Don’t tell strangers your last name, address, or anything else that could be used against you.
- Don’t share your login information. This is especially true for anything that has to do with logging in. Keep your log-in information secret at all times, even from your friends. Everything about you should be kept secret, from your bank account to your Nintendo Online account.
- Buyers beware. Don’t believe online sellers who say they need your log-in information to give you rewards online. The goal of these scams is to get players to give up their accounts. Even if you can get your account back, they sometimes steal in-game rewards to sell for real money in the future.
- Make sure you update your system. Consoles have their own operating systems that can defend themselves. Even though the risk is low, gaming systems have safety measures in place. Even though there haven’t been any reports of viruses that do a lot of damage, it’s still a good idea to keep your account up to date in case they improve security.
Should I worry about viruses on my console?
Even though it is possible for your console to get a virus, you don’t need to worry about this. A hacker has to spend a lot of time and work to make a virus that works. So, it makes more sense to go after things other than gaming consoles. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful when using online consoles. All over the internet, there are risks, and the online gaming community is no different.