Unfortunately with World of Warcraft, it seems to be a very common problem that players find themselves with a hacked account. I think hackers like to attack WoW accounts because there is no legal repercussions from such an act. Unlike hacking a persons financial accounts, after hacking a WoW account, the hacker does not have to worry about the FBI showing up at their door.

Sure, WoW accounts are not as important as something like a banking website account, but players invest a lot of time in their WoW toons, and it would certainly be very unpleasant. Blizzard does seem to help players restore their items and gold lost, but I’m sure this is not guaranteed.

Keep in mind these are only tips to follow. Even following this advice does not mean an account is invulnerable, but every bit of vigilance helps.

  • Never install an interface addon that is an executable. Even if you think it is trustworthy, I would suggest it never be done as it is never necessary. World of Warcraft add ons are only text files and images that can be unzipped into the WoW Interface/Addons folder.
  • Never use your account user name or password for any other logins. Especially WoW related websites. In general you should be very careful not to use the same user name a password for critical websites like banking and other non-critical sites.
    • To manage multiple logins and passwords, I recommend using a program like Password Manager XP or Password safe which is free.
    • Never use a password that is in the dictionary or proper noun. Always include upper and lower case letters and least one or more digits in your password.
  • Run some sort of anti-virus package that has an internet security option.
  • Setup a Blizzard authenticator with your Battle.net account. Blizzard offers a mobile device version as well as a physical authenticator which you can purchase on the Blizzard Store.
    • Keep in mind the authenticator is not foolproof. If you’ve been hacked with a key logger, the hacker can still get the code used to login to WoW, but it reduces the window of time they have to do it.
    • The authenticator will help in the case a password and login is used on a malicious website as the hackers will not be able to get in without the authenticator code.
  • Never use an out dated web browser.
    • If you are using Internet Explorer 6, then upgrade now. It is old and unsupported and more prone to be hacked.
    • I personally recommend using a browser like FireFox with the NoScript add-on, Google’s Chrome, the latest Safari, or Internet Explorer 8.
  • Always be wary of emails with links. Even if an email looks like an official blizzard email, do not click on the links. Instead, go to worldofwarcraft.com or battle.net directly and navigate to account management to check your account status.
  • I’ve noticed a lot of whispers sent through WoW chat declaring your account is in violation. The whisper will declare your account will be shut down unless you visit a provided website address. Probably most players realize this is a scam, but it must work since it is being done.
  • Make sure you operating system is updated with the latest patches. If your OS is not patched, you are leaving it open to hacking attacks.
  • If you are a Microsoft Windows user and running Windows XP then I personally recommend upgrading to Windows 7. Although not perfect, Windows 7 provides features which make it more secure than XP.

Keep in mind, by taking these precautions the risk of a hacked account is certainly less, but not impossible. Always approach everything on the internet with caution and don’t trust much out there. These practices are not just specific to World of Warcraft either, it’ll help keep you safe on the internet in general.

If others have additional tips or ideas to share, please do. This is meant to help and I’ll try to update the list as I come across other precautions to take.

Happy questing :-)

Games World of Warcraft Nontechnical October 6, 2010