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4 Dangerous Trends in VoIP

Voice chat in video games does come with some risks. Here are four dangerous trends to watch out for.

Communication in multiplayer games is the new standard, and whether the player is required to type out a few quick instructions in a WoW Raid Finder group or is just meeting up with friends for a League of Legends session it’s expected that everyone will be chatting one way or another.  Some games offer built-in voice communication, but a history of broken microphones and unreliable audio have taught us all that the best way to chat with a fellow gamer is to simply meet them on a VOIP client.

Unfortunately, using a voice chat service isn’t without some risks.  Bad things happen, and it only takes a few rotten apples to ruin the experience for the rest of us.  So, whether it’s exposing yourself unintentionally to DDOS attacks or using up more bandwidth on your PC than necessary here are dangerous trends in VOIP services that all gamers should be aware of.

Resource Hogging

Every program consumes resources, but it’s always good to minimize the amount of tasks running at any point in time.  Some VOIP services are a little more considerate than others, and while the ubiquity of Peer-to-Peer programs like Skype make it tempting to settle for other server-based programs like Raidcall or Teamspeak offer the same service with more reasonable resource requirements.

If you’re the type of gamer that happens to find the gaming rig moving a little slower than normal, it never hurts to take a look at your VOIP of choice.

Secure Data Management

VOIP programs that allow gamers access to servers come with their own risks, and although simply using services won’t put you at risk for anything it’s always better to play it safe.  Limit downloading from untrusted sources, or clicking links posted on a public Raidcall or Mumble.  It may sound like obvious advice but it’s easy to have a PC become compromised by a few negligent clicks.

DDOS Attacks

Distributed Denial of Service attacks are the result of a malicious third party forcing a computer or program into working overtime.  By flooding a program with requests a user’s connection to said program becomes worse, resulting in multiple hang-ups and (usually) disconnection.   While there’s no guaranteed way to protect any network from DDOS attacks, reducing the risk is as simple as limiting all Peer-to-Peer connections made.

Exposing your IP

Swatting is the latest dangerous trend in malicious attacks, but it’s one that revolves around getting personal information from the intended target before taking any steps forward.  There are a few ways to get access to someone’s IP address, but using any VOIP that connects players via Peer-to-Peer or that bounces information from unknown servers naturally increases the risk.  Avoid direct connections with strangers, or at the very least try to limit the amount of network connections your application of choice makes.

Using a VOIP service isn’t always a dangerous prospect, and for most gamers fail safes to any of these common VOIP dangers may not be necessary.  Streaming or playing any game in a public arena will naturally increase your odds of being targeted for being subject to DDOS attacks, but programs like Curse Voice do offer some security in being able to communicate online without relying on Peer-to-Peer or non-cloud server connections.

The unfortunate truth is that there is no guaranteed way to stay completely safe when grouping up to chat with strangers online.  As VOIP continues to develop as a service the dangers of using voice communication online may continue to grow, but staying informed on threats that could wreck your fun is the first step to protecting yourself from them.  

Published Sep. 17th 2015

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