The gaming industry is a prime target for cyberattacks due to its cash and data-intensive nature, with hackers seeking to steal financial and personal information or disrupt gameplay. With the industry’s value exceeding $197 billion USD in 2022, effective cybersecurity measures are imperative to prevent data and currency theft, protect against software attacks, and stop malware infections on users’ devices. Various cyber threats can target the gaming industry, and it is essential to establish robust security measures to address these threats.
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In-Game Cheats and Mods
Game mods are a common type of cyber threat in compact games, especially for mobile and PC games. Mods integrate cheating software into the game and are sold to users for profit, causing frustration for legitimate players. Established game developers such as Nintendo must work to close loopholes that enable mod creation to prevent their negative impact on gameplay and the loss of users. Destiny 2 is an example of an MMO game that has struggled to combat mods, resulting in the loss of users and legal battles.
Personal Identifiable Information (PII) Leaks
PII leaks are a type of cyber-attack that involves collecting and selling valuable personal information, which can be obtained by manipulating game forms or exploiting developer errors. Mobile games are particularly vulnerable to database leaks as they often collect data automatically. In 2020, a gambling app misconfigured its Elasticsearch engine, exposing 200 million sensitive records daily. In 2022, Neopets disclosed a data breach that occurred over 18 months, impacting over 69 million users.
Phishing attacks are commonly used on gamers to acquire personal information or payments. Attackers pose as trusted individuals or services to request information, which can be sold or used for ransom. Phishing is widespread, with over 3.1 million instances detected in one year, often targeting user credentials to take over gaming accounts. Payment information and reused passwords can also be stolen, allowing attackers to use credential stuffing to breach other systems.
Malware and Malicious Payloads
Due to hackers and poor developer security, PC and mobile games can pose a significant risk to users’ online and personal security. Malware can infect devices after downloading an infected program or when malicious code is injected into a legitimate game. Malware infections are prevalent when downloading games from torrent sites, and even mobile games are not safe. Minecraft is one of the most malware-infected PC games, with over 3 million infected between 2020 and 2021.
DDoS attacks aim to slow or block legitimate connections to servers, causing service disruptions. They can be targeted at game servers or personal devices, and the motivations behind each attack differ.
Game developers should prioritize cybersecurity when building and maintaining games. This applies not only to the gaming industry but to other sectors as well as a way of growing a business. can be done by including security protocols throughout development, monitoring games in production, securing authentication methods, and infrastructure, and running security exercises. It is also important to engage users and educate them. Implementing these measures will reduce the risk of successful cyberattacks and ensure the game functions as expected.