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ForumsProgramming ForumHow do indie game developers protect themselves from cyber-crime?

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Hello fellow devs. I've been making free games for a while, but the game I am currently working on is my first serious project that I plan to sell on Steam. I work with the help of one artist and a few closed testers.

Thing is, now that I’m making a game for sale, I need to buff up my whole system to stay safe. So, what security advice should I take? Any examples of more popular indie game developers, and what they do to protect themselves? (Even the semi-popular ones count.) How do you guys protect yourselves? What do you do?

(Or, is cybersecurity simply less of a concern for indie game devs because we’re not churning out triple As? I hope not. Security seems like something too important to ignore.)

To add to the mix, I suffer from OCD and chronic paranoia. I have extreme anxiety and fears about getting hacked and having my game data stolen or deleted. I also fear having my Steam, Kickstarter or Paypal accounts hacked. With good reason too: Hackers’ targets are normally small businesses like ours, and they look for vulnerable accounts and systems. I would be wrecked if someone were to hack my Kickstarter account and ruin everything, or even somehow steal my game or corrupt it. What would I say to my backers? "Sorry guys, the project is cancelled because it's destroyed. Now how do I refund everyone?" That sounds like a complete disaster.

I also worry a lot about my reputation as a game developer. I had a very embarrassing past as a stereotypical teenager, where I posted a lot of nonsense, stupidity and drama on websites and forums. I worry about being spied on by hackers. What if a hacker were to show all my embarrassing past activities and postings I had on the Internet to my parents or friends? It would be very awkward for me.

I’m also anxious about what would happen if people were to make up and spread rumours or gossip about me. Remember Phil Fish, that guy who developed Fez? When I read about how he got hacked, it scared the daylights out of me. He literally had his life destroyed in one blow. People said he had a bad reputation and was very rude towards fans. So now I’m really worried about offending consumers too.

Then there’s the worry over getting doxed (having my real name, surname and address leaked out online). It’s really crappy in general to have so much of your private life revealed to the public. But say, say if I manage to hit the big jackpot. Get as famous as the guys who did Undertale, Five Nights At Freddy's, Starbound, Super Meat Boy, etc. Doxxing could get so much worse.

Like with those YouTubers and Twitch streamers who get their phone number posted online, so their phone explodes with messages and calls. Or the poor things whose addresses are shown and get pranked with mass pizza deliveries and worse.

And surely everyone has some kind of skeletons in their closets. Regrets, embarrassments, weird parts of themselves they don't want strangers to know. How do these people, who’ve reached a certain level of popularity, deal with having them? How do they deal with keeping their skeletons away from the public?

Let’s not forget the biggest target for hackers is where big money lives. So that’s another worry if I do end up making good money out of my game.

Lastly, no matter where my game-making takes me, staying anonymous is a big priority. I don't want stalkers or thieves to be able to reach me offline. I want to keep living my quiet, private life, but it seems like you can't if you want to hit it big. It seems like you can't make any sort of impact in the gaming industry at all, if you're not well known. What does someone do about that?

Actually, I may already be too late to keep complete anonymity. I shared my game screenshots and details under my real name back when I knew nothing about cybersecurity. Also, my current project takes place in the same universe as my free games do, and my free games were posted under my real name. Looks like there’s no way of separating them… unless anyone’s got ideas?

Maybe I wouldn’t have to worry about all this if I made my game really fringe and unpopular on purpose, but that’s really counterproductive. And maybe someone will say that I’ve got a weak mentality and shouldn’t be making games, just to save myself from all the stress. But making games is my greatest passion. I have wanted to make games ever since I was a kid, and I will never quit.

So, could you please help me out here, guys? Anything you or people you know do to beef up your cybersecurity, beyond that of an average joe, to keep your games and your privacy safe would be really welcome. Sorry for the long post, and thanks for reading.

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