Video Gaming

Mobile game protection: Unmasking 4 phases of game attacks

Did you know that in December 2022 alone, the number of global mobile cyber-attacks was approximately 2.2 million? 🤯 It’s alarming, especially in the world of mobile gaming, where each game released is a marvel of creativity. But just as games have bosses to defeat, developers face their own real-world foes.

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of these cyberattacks and explore how to ensure the party goes on uninterrupted.

How does a mobile game attack happen?

A mobile game attack usually happens in four phases; reconnaissance, execution, distribution and automation. Here’s how the attack cycle works:

1. Reconnaissance attack phase

At its core, the reconnaissance phase is all about information gathering. But this isn’t a random process. Think of this phase as the calm before the storm. Hackers act like sneaky detectives, scouting and snooping around. They dive deep into digital footprints, from casual forum posts to hidden code within a game.

Here’s also where analyzing the app itself comes into play. It involves trying to read the compiled code of the app, looking for traces of server URLs, passwords and API keys in the assets of the app and then using various tools like disassemblers, debuggers and hooking frameworks to understand the inner working of the app.

By collecting this data, hackers essentially sketch a detailed layout of the game, highlighting any potential weaknesses. It’s the equivalent of a gamer studying a level to find all its secret passages and power-ups.

2. Execution attack phase

Now, armed with their ‘treasure map’, hackers spring into action. The execution phase is where they capitalize on gathered vulnerabilities and attempt to breach the fortress that guards your mobile game. This is where the gathered intelligence is leveraged for the actual breach:

  • Exploiting weaknesses: Using the vulnerabilities detected during reconnaissance, hackers target these entry points to gain unauthorized access.
  • Malware: Crafty pieces of software might be injected into the game application. Once inside, they can steal data, corrupt files or even control parts of the game.
  • Phishing attacks: By impersonating trusted entities, attackers might trick users or developers into revealing sensitive data or credentials. They do that by adding the cheat code into the app or removing license/billing checks to circumvent payment.

The goal for this stage is unauthorized access, data exfiltration or setting the stage for deeper infiltration or subsequent attacks.

3. Distribution attack phase

Having breached a game’s defenses, hackers aim to create widespread chaos:

  • Replication: The malicious code can replicate itself, infiltrating various parts of the game or even spreading to other connected systems.
  • Distribution channels: Fake updates, cloned versions or modded game files are pushed to users. These malicious versions then become tools for further data theft or infection.
  • Monetization: Stolen in-game assets, player data or game mechanics can be sold on the dark web or used to create competing clones. Another monetization possibility for the attackers is selling the cheats or modded apps.

With widespread damage, multiple infection points and possibly monetizing the attack, game developers’ work is greatly damaged.

4. Automation attack phase

Why cause chaos manually when you can set it on autopilot? Hackers employ tools and scripts to automate their mischief. This phase is particularly concerning due to its potential scale – a single hacker can target numerous games and systems simultaneously. This phase amplifies the scale and speed of the attack:

Automated scripted attacks can test thousands of vulnerabilities simultaneously or perform actions like rapid in-game purchases, exploiting game economies.

The attack’s scale and speed can be so magnified that manual interventions become nearly impossible. It can overwhelm game servers, disrupt services or rapidly exploit any vulnerability found.

How important is mobile game security?

Understanding these phases underscores the importance of a strong defense strategy. Every phase presents unique challenges, but with a keen understanding and proactive measures, game developers can safeguard their games.

Games with microtransactions or valuable virtual assets are particularly attractive targets, as hackers envision dollar signs while creating their strategies.

But here’s the twist: the gaming world has its own set of superheroes. Cybersecurity software is our hero, vigilant and always ready. It acts as a shield against information gathering during the reconnaissance phase and fortifies defenses during the execution phase, identifying vulnerabilities and patching them before they can be exploited.

How to protect your mobile game from hackers?

Effectively defending your mobile game requires more than just understanding the phases of an attack; it demands a comprehensive security strategy. Here are some actionable steps that game developers can take:

  • Complete security measures: Employ a secure approach that encompasses encryption, secure authentication methods and data protection protocols.
  • Multiple layers of security: Employ multiple security measures like protecting the server interface as well as protecting and reinforce clients with several security controls.
  • Digital Rights Management (DRM): Implement DRM solutions to safeguard in-app purchases and prevent unauthorized redistribution, preserving your revenue stream.
  • Anti-piracy measures: Employ measures to counteract piracy, dissuading attackers from distributing compromised versions of your game.
  • Behavioral analysis solutions: Embrace advanced solutions like Denuvo Unbotify, which employs behavioral analysis to thwart automated attacks effectively.

Ready to defend your mobile game the right way?

The universe of mobile gaming is vast, thrilling and filled with adventures. But every creator developer deserves to see their world thrive without external threats. Denuvo Mobile Protection Solution and Denuvo Unbotify stand as your steadfast companions in this journey.

So, as you design your gaming masterpieces, remember that with the right allies and tools, you’re set for victory. Contact us, harness the power of protection with Denuvo and let’s play on!


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