The mobile gaming market has skyrocketed in the past few years, becoming a lucrative business opportunity. Although people often believe that social media is the most common reason we pick up our phones, statistics actually show that games are the most popular app category. More specifically, games account for a whopping 43% of smartphone use, and 62% install games on their phone just one week after getting it. Mobile technology has come a long way and today, even a mid-range phone can support complex games with incredible graphics, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that mobile gaming revenue is on the rise. According to recent data, both Google and Android have reported unprecedented growth in the first half of 2021, earning $44.7 billion in revenue.
So, if you’ve ever dreamed of launching your own mobile game, now is a good time. However, there’s one potential threat to keep in mind: the growing rate of cybercrime. Gamers are a niche demographic known for spending money, and gaming as an industry is a lucrative service model. Many games include in-purchases and, even if they don’t, they still store personal user data, which can attract hackers. Between 2017 and 2019, the gaming industry lost 12 billion in security breaches and hacking attacks, and the main reason why this happened was that developers prioritised user experience instead of security. Some developers may also rush to launch their game as quickly as possible to take advantage of a certain gaming trend and, by doing so, they neglect to patch essential security bugs that ultimately end up losing them money.
To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, here are seven essential tips for securing your gaming app.
1. Prevent hackers from cloning your app
Sometimes, hackers don’t even attempt to hack your game directly. For example, in the case of viral mobile games, hackers reverse-engineer the code of the original game and then publish its clones on app stores, where unsuspecting players download it. This threat is often underestimated by game developers. After all, if the original game is not under attack, why should they care? In reality, app cloning is dangerous for two reasons. Firstly, copycat games can make certain in-app purchases free, which will eventually affect your revenue. Secondly, they can have malware and infect host devices and players who don’t realise they installed a clone game will blame your company for it. Although having clones of your game might seem flattering, the truth is that they can indirectly affect your company’s reputation, so you should install multiple layers of security so that hackers can’t reverse engineer your code.
2. Secure the in-app purchasing system
If your game uses an in-app purchasing system, make sure it doesn’t have any security flaws. This especially applies to betting games, where the basic mechanics focus on depositing and withdrawing funds. Work with an experienced sports betting software development company that is familiar with the security challenges of the iGaming industry and can protect the critical points in the application infrastructure. Remember that security is essential for the modern smartphone user, and one single breach in your payment gateways can cost you your reputation – and a lot of money.
3. Find and remove vulnerabilities in the app code.
If you have a brilliant game idea, you probably want to develop and launch the game as quickly as possible. However, rushing the launch and neglecting penetration testing is a big mistake that can cost you a lot in the long run. Penetration testing (also known as pen testing or ethical hacking) is a cybersecurity technique that developers use to find and remove vulnerabilities in the code ahead of hackers. Penetration testing actually involves some of the methods that hackers use, but the goal is to identify weak points in the app’s architecture and address them before hackers have a chance to do that. So, when testing the game, don’t just focus on UX/UI. Security matters just as much.
4. Secure the host device
Many times, hackers don’t exploit the weak points of the game to attack its defences, but the host device. For example, they take advantage of excess permissions to spread their malware into the user’s phone. Or, if the user’s phone is rooted, it may be easier for hackers to breach the defences. Ultimately, it’s important for game developers to understand that the security of the host device matters just as much as the security of the game’s underlying infrastructure.
5. Find threats in real-time.
Hacking attempts should be identified sooner rather than later. If a malicious party manages to breach your game’s defences and you catch them after three days, the damage is already done, and you might not be able to recover. According to IBM data, there’s a lot of room for improvement in breach response times and that deploying security automation tools that can detect hacking attempts in real-time is much more affordable than recovering after a data breach. There’s also another thing you should keep in mind: if a large game developer has the funds to bounce back after a cyberattack, for a small developer, it’s nearly impossible to recover from the financial and reputation damage.
6. Invest in server security
Having secure servers is essential if your game supports online playing. So, when you invest in hosting, make sure your provider offers you a strong firewall system and real-time intrusion detections. This way, hackers won’t be able to breach them and access sensitive user data such as credit card numbers.
7. Keep cheaters at bay.
Last but definitely not least, during gaming application development, you should address a practice that’s as old as gaming itself: cheating. While some don’t consider cheating to pertain to cybersecurity, cheating is possible precisely because third parties can tamper with your code. They may not want to steal user data; in fact, most of the time, they want to have an unfair advantage or just mess with other people. However, cheaters ruin the experience for regular players or make them uninstall your game, which affects the success of the launch and your reputation as a game developer.
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