It’s commonplace for people to use their phones as a replacement for laptops but fail to protect their mobile devices as much as their computers. If you’re planning on gaming on your smartphone, you should do everything you can to protect yourself from hackers who could steal your information. These 5 tips will help you stay secure while gaming online.

Don’t Use a Weak Password

Too many people still use a weak password for websites. Using data from security breaches and exposed password tables, about 11% or 3.4 million passwords are 1234, with more than 6% using 1111. Other common passwords include the user’s birthday, 8065, and password123.

For places like online casinos where you upload your credit card information and address to play online roulette, poker, and slots, it’s crucial to come up with a complicated password. Although many websites do everything in their power to prevent security breaches, they can’t protect you effectively if your password is easy to guess.

Consider Using a VPN

VPNs act as an extra layer of protection while you browse the internet, and services like NordVPN have specific networks dedicated to optimizing gaming speeds. When you aren’t gaming, you can still use a VPN to encrypt your data and change your location.

While it does sound technical, using a VPN is really easy and can protect you from potential security breaches. Most hackers will use your IP address, unique to your computer network, to steal data from you. However, a VPN scrambles your actual IP address and gives you a proxy one, making it almost impossible to breach your network and find your location.

Update Your Apps

It isn’t just your phone’s core software that requires regular updates. Your apps need to update as well. While plenty of apps do frequent updates to improve their content, developers may also use updates to patch up security problems, and forgetting to do so will put your phone at risk.

Check your phone’s preferences to see if your applications update automatically. If they don’t, go to the Application section in your settings and turn auto-updates on. Even if you don’t want to auto-update your smartphone apps, you can navigate to the individual app page and manually update the gaming app yourself. Whatever method you choose, be sure to keep up with it.

Don’t Follow Suspicious Links or Ads

As a rule, downloading from Google Play Store will be a safe option because there is a process every app has to go through to stay on the store. That doesn’t mean the application’s quality will be up to par, but it does mean your phone is less likely to receive a virus.

However, if you download a game from another location that isn’t known or trusted (for example, downloading ROM hacks), you could light your phone up with viruses. Sometimes the apps ads or links could include viruses or malware, and you won’t be able to screen them before clicking. As a rule, stick to the Play Store or Steam for your games unless you trust the website.

Avoid Public Wi-Fi

Gaming on public Wi-Fi is convenient because you won’t spend hundreds of dollars on data charges, but it could cost your security. You should always treat public Wi-Fi with suspicion and never, ever use it to download anything unless you’re also using a VPN.

If you choose to use public Wi-Fi, you should only browse sites with an ‘HTTP’ URL, as this means they’re secured. All bank websites will usually be secured, but they can’t do anything about a middle man attack, which is when a hacker intercepts information being sent to and from the bank. Avoid using public Wi-Fi for gaming if possible, and never input card details on your phone.