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Avoid Suspicious Downloads
This does not mean avoid downloading anything onto your computer (I know some of us have needs after all)! However, downloading add-on's or mods that directly influence World of Warcraft should be chosen carefully. If you download a hacker’s mod then they have direct access not just to your account, but to your computer! I suggest curse.com for all your download needs.
And always make sure to download official patches. Many websites advertise that they have patch downloads before the official release. Don't try to show off to your friends by being the first to download new patches. In a few days time they will be showing off that they still have their WoW account...
Unfortunately, hackers are becoming smarter, so you must too! They are now hiding their threats in downloads which advertise to help you. The hackers found a market of players who are worried about account security and tapped into them. Downloads such as authenticators that double (more like shatter) your online security are all designed to help us, supposedly. Don't be fooled. Unless the link is from the official World of Warcraft webpage, then do not download it. If it's posted on a blog and looks suspicious, then perhaps leave a comment warning fellow players to not download it. That's it you're feeling particularly nice that day, of course.
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Regular Spyware Checks
We all have them, so lets start using them! We have the right to delete any suspicious activity on our computers. I was once told the case of a man who kept his account details within a writing document for 'safe keeping'. He was hacked (probably by someone who was not even looking to get his WoW details) but because his details were so easily accessible he could not prove it was an actual hacker. Blizzard maintained that the hacker could have in fact been his daughter, his wife, or even his pet dog (okay, maybe not that last one, but you get the point). Don’t get me wrong; Blizzard will in most cases help you with your hacker problem. They may, however, frown upon you if they find out you had your security checks disabled.
Keylogging (when your hacker can actually see which keys you press during your login process) is the most common tool used by hackers. We have been warned that URLs (web address) that end in ".jpg.html" and ".scr." are to be accessed with care. A good security checker will normally ask you for conformation before you accept these URLs.
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Buying Gold Online
This has always been risky. Apart from the fear of Blizzard banning your account, you also have to contend with the security breach you are imposing on your account. Paying with the card you pay for your subscription on, allowing them to have your account details, communicating with players who are breaking a fundamental rule of Blizzard are all extremely dangerous. You are not only compromising your World of Warcraft account, but also yourself (your identity, your money, etc). Moreover, if you are hacked after purchasing gold, do you think blizzard will be willing to help you get it back? I didn’t think so either…
I would avoid gold buying at all costs (there's a comedian in the house). If you don’t have the time to farm gold then I would advise playing your XBOX (or something all around less hardcore than WoW).
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Very few World of Warcraft accounts actually get hacked, but it is doubtful any player would be willing to take that risk. When it comes to keeping yours safe, common sense is the key. Simply put, if you woke up one day to find a burglar in your house, would you phone the police, or would you head off to work and tell them to have a nice day? Protect your account, protect your fun!
A must read series of articles covering how to keep your World of Warcraft account secure and deal with other account management issues.