These days, everything seems to be online. From our banking accounts to our personal shopping, the internet has become an essential component of our everyday life. However, it also comes with its own sets of risks, especially for public figures like streamers.
Whether it be gaming, creating art, or even just walking around their cities, streamers involve their viewers in their daily activities. Often, this means allowing their viewers to see everything from the inside of their homes to hear their unfiltered thoughts about the world.
While being authentic online can help streamers create meaningful relationships with their fans, not everyone watching them means well. In some cases, streamers also expose themselves to stalkers, online predators, or people looking to take advantage of them.
As a streamer, you probably have a dozen or so accounts related to creating your content. Whether it's for games, editing apps, or subscriptions, you'll be managing multiple usernames/passwords on top of the ones you have in your personal life. With all of these on your plate, it can be hard to stay on top of all of them.
However, it's absolutely necessary to do so, especially if you don't want people stealing your identity and committing fraud in your name. So, if you're a streamer sharing your life with the world regularly, here are some essential security tips you should keep in mind.
Securing personal information
For streamers, building a brand around your personal is critical to crafting loyal fans and a strong community. Thankfully, it's definitely possible to do this without ever revealing your real name. Similar to celebrities, there are plenty of streamers who use stage names while going live. So, if you're still pretty early in your streaming career, you may want to consider picking out a memorable name for our public persona.
Aside from this, brands who tap into streamers to promote their products or services may reach out to you, so you can share content about them. While some legitimate brands could be trying to send you products, some bad actors can use this as an excuse to get your personal information, such as your personal phone number or home address.
To avoid this, you should invest in a second mobile number for work purposes only. In addition, if budget allows, you can look into investing in a P.O. box or co-working space address to receive packages on your behalf.
Securing online accounts
Even if you don't always have much time, the bare minimum you should be doing is creating separate emails and strong passwords for each of your accounts.
Typically, when data breaches happen, hackers can insinuate your other passwords for non-related accounts. By decentralizing your information across platforms and using password managers, you can make it harder for bad actors to access your accounts.
Next, you need to actively monitor the platforms you use for security issues, so you can do damage control before it's too late. For example, if you're a gamer, you should take note of breaches that affect accounts you use frequently and are linked to your personal details.
In 2021, a massive Twitch leak caused information like streamer payouts to be accessible to the public on 4chan. In the same year, Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) also shared the rise of phishing campaigns specifically targeted YouTube creators using cookie theft malware.
Lastly, it would be best if you protect your stream key at all costs, because if anyone gets their hands on it, you can lose your channel. So, as much as possible, make sure you invest in holistic account security practices across all your platforms.
Aside from preventive security practices, you also need to be mindful while you're streaming. For gamers, this means also making sure you're fully utilizing streamer platform settings meant to protect you. For example, on OBS, you can use game capture instead of display capture, which shows a black screen when you're not playing.
With this, you can avoid revealing any open tabs on your screen, which can have personal information. While you're at it, you should probably mute any notifications to avoid personal messages popping out on the screen.
If you're the kind of person to stream outdoors or in public, you may also want to delay streams as well. In the event that you have any stalkers, you can avoid revealing your exact location in identifiable places.
In recent times, there has also been a rise in AI scams using voice and face cloning technology, which bad actors can use to steal your likeness. With your likeness, bad actors can promote products, services, or campaigns without your consent, leading to broken brand deals that require exclusivity. In addition, it can cause fans to support faulty or illegal products, which you did not agree to promote.
Not to mention, it can be used for other forms of non-consensual image abuse, such as explicit photos. If ever you find yourself a victim of AI-enabled deepfakes, there are still things you can do to protect yourself, such as filing takedown requests and enlisting the help of reputation management firms.
For many streamers, social media is an extension of their brand, wherein you can interact with fans and let them follow your adventures outside your streams. Although as streamers become bigger in their respective industries, being lax with your social media accounts can lead to trouble.
For example, you can accidentally reveal things like the location of your house the full names of the people in your family, or the names of your pets. While this information can appear harmless at first, it can potentially reveal answers to password recovery options for your accounts.
So, aside from hiding your location by denying geotagging, you can also benefit from withholding specific information that you typically use for password recovery.
In addition, if you find yourself in the company of toxic fans or hate, you may be at risk of stalking or harassment. With this, it's best to keep in mind all the ways you can block them on your social media platforms like Discord, if it becomes too much.
At the end of the day, streaming can just be a portion of the rest of your life. When you're not sharing your life online, you may still have things going on, like your home, relationships, hobbies, or work. With this, it's best to make sure that whatever you do online doesn't endanger you or the people around you.
According to the National Council on Identity Theft Protection, the FTC received 5.7 million fraud and identity theft reports in 2023 alone. With total losses estimated to be about $10.2 billion, the FBI claims this is almost double the amount in the previous year.
When it comes to online security, we're only ever as safe as the weakest link in our network. What this means is that by becoming an online figure, you essentially hold the responsibility of making sure your platforms are secure.
In addition, if you have people with whom you regularly interact, you have to both get their consent and make them aware of the risks of being involved with a public figure. For example, because their personal information can also be revealed on your platform, you should also tell them about the importance of good internet security practices.