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If you spend a lot of time gaming online, there's a good chance you have invested a lot in your gaming setup. Gaming can be expensive, between purchasing games, buying extras, gathering equipment like controllers and headsets, utilizing the right computer, and more. So, once you invest a lot in your gaming setup, you want to ensure that you keep it safe and protected. This is especially important if you play online games that utilize the same network as other computers in your household or office. If other computers are connected to the web while you're also playing games online, they can also be vulnerable to any cyberattacks or risks you might encounter while you are online playing games.

You should take several important steps as an online gamer to ensure your game experience, computer, network, and other computers on your network are safe while you are gaming. First, you should ensure that you have antivirus protection turned on while you game. Despite commonly (and wrongly) held beliefs, antivirus (especially one with a gaming mode) can help enhance your online gaming experience. It can also help protect you from bad actors while you play games online.

Another of the most important security measures to consider when gaming is going online with a VPN for gaming. If you don't know what a VPN for gaming is, read on. You can learn about what a VPN is, how it can help your gaming experience, how to use a VPN for gaming, and how you can choose the right VPN for gaming, so you have a great gaming experience—and rest assured that all of your computers and equipment are safe.

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for a virtual private network. VPNs are tools that allow you to access the web with a different network than the one you connect directly to with your own computer. Technically, with a VPN, your computer links up to another computer connected to the web, and then you can use the Internet via that computer's web connection. If that computer (also called a server) is located in a different country, then you can access sites and content that is available in that country (and sometimes that is unavailable in the country you are browsing in).

Many people use VPNs at least some of the time while browsing the web. In fact, experts believe that at least 25% of all people using the Internet have accessed a VPN in the last month. VPNs can be utilized for many purposes, including accessing hard-to-access content, keeping your computer safe by utilizing a different network connection than your own, and gaining anonymity by essentially hiding your location and identity while you use the web.

Why use a VPN?

VPNs have long been considered a means of keeping a computer and the data on it safe. They have also been a way to access content that is typically off-limits to the country you live in. Here are some of the typical benefits of using a VPN when you connect to the web:

  • Keep your information safe: People use VPNs to keep the data on their devices or accessible via their network safe. People can use VPNs to protect their information from hackers and from things like government surveillance or any bad actor who may be spying on your Internet usage. When you connect to a VPN, any bad actor would simply see encrypted statistics via the VPN server, keeping your hardware and the information on it safe.
  • Access restricted content: When you can't access certain content in your country—like television shows, websites, or movies—you may use a VPN to connect to a computer in a different country. Then you can browse everything available on the web in that country. Because of this, many people use VPNs where their Internet usage is censored.
  • Browse the Internet anonymously: If you don't want to have your Internet usage attached to you in any way, you can browse using a VPN. This will ensure that none of your online behavior can be traced back to you.
  • Work remotely: People can work remotely using VPNs. If they are not in the country where their company is located, employees can use a VPN to access the internet in that country, so they won't have any trouble doing work on their company's server or network.
  • Avoid Internet connection throttle: If you use too much data or bandwidth while browsing the Internet, your ISP might throttle your speed—meaning they slow down the connection. This can interfere with your experience online. Instead, people choose to use VPNs so that they can browse without worrying about a slowdown. People should make sure to choose a VPN with no data caps or limits, so they don't also experience throttle when using a VPN.
  • Game online safely: Some people choose to use a VPN for safer online gaming, with better performance.

Why use a VPN while gaming?

Using a VPN has many benefits, including when people choose to use a VPN for online gaming. There are several smart reasons to use a VPN while you game, including the following:

Protect yourself from cyberattacks

Gamers can experience DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks when gaming if other players want to stop them from playing the game. To perform a DDoS attack, players must be able to access your IP address. If you use a VPN while gaming, competitors can't find your exact IP address, and this can help protect you from experiencing DDoS attacks while you play online.

Access geo-restricted games

When you use a VPN for gaming, you can access games restricted in your geographic area. When you pick which server you want to use for playing, you can choose one that offers access to the games you want to play, so you gain access to even more fun and engaging content. Sometimes, games are released in certain parts of the world earlier than in other parts. If you are excited to play a game released early somewhere you don't live, you can use a VPN to take advantage of that early access.

Reduce the chances of swatting

Swatting happens when an opponent locates your IP address and sends a SWAT team to your home on a fake emergency call. Swatting isn't only startling or a prank that people can witness if you live stream video of yourself gaming online. It can also be dangerous since SWAT teams can burst into your property expecting to find a violent emergency, which increases the chances that someone could get shot or hurt during the ordeal. While using a VPN can't completely protect you from swatting (if there are other ways to find the physical address of where you are playing), it can stop people from swatting you if the only information they have about you is your IP address. Keep yourself safe and avoid the anxiety of swatting happening to you by gaming with a VPN.

Game on public Wi-Fi

If you only have access to public Wi-Fi and still want to game online, you can use a VPN to stay safe. If you access a public Wi-Fi network with a VPN, you protect the information on your computer from other bad actors who might also be using the same public Wi-Fi network. You also protect yourself from malware or spyware or any other cyber threat that might be posed by someone who has access to your device by being connected to the same network as you are.

Get around IP bans

A game can ban an IP address if they disapprove of the behavior from players on that IP address or if a player from a specific IP address breaks game rules or does something that is prohibited. You can get around an IP ban by using a VPN and appearing in the game as playing from a different IP address than the one you got banned on.

Lower your ping time

Ping time shows the amount of time it takes for a message to get from you to another IP address. A low ping time means that you are experiencing as little latency as possible. A high ping time means it's taking you a long time communicating with whoever you're gaming with. High ping times can happen with connection throttle. By using a VPN, you can reduce ping time and help ensure there is no lag or latency in your gaming—giving you the overall best experience playing and providing you with the best possible chance to win while you play.

Play anonymously

It's possible you just don't want people to know what games you're playing online, or you don't want to be identified while you're playing with opponents. Using a VPN completely anonymizes your identity and data, so you can be sure that nobody knows what you're doing—or playing—online.

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What to consider when choosing a VPN for gaming

The above list of benefits derived from using a VPN for gaming may have convinced you that a VPN is the way to go. But there are so many VPNs out there; how do you choose the best one for you while you game online? Keep the following considerations in mind when you consider which VPN to use for gaming online:

Consider server location

When picking a VPN, make sure you can access servers in the location you want or need. You may want to access a game that has only been released in a certain location or one that is restricted where you are but not in other places. Ensure the VPN you choose has servers that will give you access to the games and content you want.

Make sure it allows for P2P connection

A lot of online games require peer-to-peer (P2P) connections to play a game. Not all VPNs allow for P2P connections. Make sure you choose one that does to properly play the game you want to play.

Ensure the VPN is compatible with the platform you want to game on

Not all VPNs are compatible with all gaming platforms. You can use so many devices to game online—from your PC to your mobile device to your Nintendo Switch. Make sure that the VPN you choose will work with all of the devices you will play online games on because you don't want the one you choose to limit you by not working with one of your preferred gaming devices.

Choose a secure, safe, and trusted VPN

Make sure that the VPN you choose is reliable and safe. A VPN might get you access to a game that you can't otherwise access, but it won't be of any help if it ultimately exposes you to more cyber threats. Check out the reputation of the VPN for gaming that you are planning to choose, and make sure that it offers a secure connection. This is essential for making sure it helps to protect you from DDoS attacks.

Select a VPN with a no-log policy

One of the reasons that many people choose to game or browse with VPNs is that they anonymize your online experience. Make sure you choose a VPN that doesn't log user data because this defeats the purpose. A VPN should allow anonymous browsing and gaming to help you have a safer and more anonymous experience online.

Make sure it is fast

Often, VPNs with servers in the right location can speed up your gaming experience by reducing lag. So, make sure you choose a fast VPN. You don't want your VPN to slow down your connection because this will affect your gaming experience and performance negatively. Look for a VPN with many high-bandwidth servers, as this will ensure it helps speed up your gaming experience and keep your game playing smoothly.

Look for a VPN without a data cap

Some VPNs have data caps, which means that the amount of data you can use on the VPN is limited. Online gaming can take up a lot of bandwidth and data, so you want to make sure that the VPN you choose won't cap your data. If your VPN does limit data and you reach the max allowed, the provider might throttle your connection speed, which can seriously impact your ability to play an online game.

Check that the VPN has options for configuration

Any VPNs give you the ability to configure your VPN. You may want to choose a faster connection, which will help you reduce lag time and improve your gaming experience and performance. Alternatively, you may want to choose a VPN to optimize security if you are accessing a game that might make you vulnerable to cyber attackers or malicious actors online. If you pick a VPN where you can set the protocols, you can ensure the VPN you choose for gaming meets your needs at all times, no matter if those needs change or differ from situation to situation.

Recommended products

Kaspersky aims to create products to keep all people safe online, especially those who are gaming. Kaspersky is committed to protecting individual's information and devices, and people who use them can rest assured that they won't be vulnerable to predators while using their technology. Your devices should only be tools to enhance your life and add entertainment—not cause you unnecessary worry or stress. Kaspersky now offers many products that will protect you while you game online, no matter the device you use.

One product that can help isKaspersky VPN Secure Connection. Kaspersky VPN Connection offers you lightning-speed VPN security that can help ensure your data isn't stolen while you play games online. It can help you connect to more global content and games that may not be accessible in the country where you're playing. Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection covers five devices that can connect via the VPN. Look through all of the Kaspersky Lab products available to see how they can help you enhance your experience of gaming online while simultaneously mitigating any potential risks or threats.

Further Reading:

What to look for in a VPN for gaming

Use this guide to help you choose the right VPN for gaming so you can ensure your privacy is protected.
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