Table of Contents
- 1 Key Cybersecurity Threats in the Gaming Industry
- 2 The Importance of Secure In-Game Transactions
- 3 Safeguarding Players with Identity Verification and Authentication
- 4 Know Your Gamer: Implementing KYC in Gaming
- 5 Key Benefits of Player Identity Verification for Gaming Platforms
- 6 The Future of Identity Verification in Gaming with Identity.com
- 7 Conclusion
- 8 Identity.com
The gaming industry, once a niche in the tech ecosystem, has become one of the fastest-growing industries. It encompasses the commerce of virtual products and sophisticated entertainment tools, designed to keep users engaged and spending as they navigate through various levels of complexity and problem-solving in games.
This industry’s upward trajectory shows no signs of slowing, especially with major tech companies continually investing in its expansion. However, with growth comes the increased attention of malicious actors who aim to infiltrate the system to steal users’ personal data and credit card information. Even more concerning, some users exploit gaming platforms for money laundering purposes. This article will address the “dark web” of the growing gaming industry and its cybersecurity challenges.
Key Cybersecurity Threats in the Gaming Industry
The gaming industry typically sees a surge in player activity during holidays, attributed to increased leisure time. However, in 2020, an extraordinary spike occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With many countries under lockdown, people turned to gaming as a form of in-home entertainment, leading to an influx of new users. This was beneficial for gaming companies, as it resulted in heightened user engagement, more onboarding, and increased microtransactions and in-app purchases.
Yet, the rise in online transactions, involving credit or debit card usage, created a favorable ground for malicious actors. Furthermore, gaming platforms faced various cybersecurity threats beyond the theft of banking information, including malicious attacks on their servers. Here’s an overview of the major cybersecurity threats facing the gaming industry:
Hacking and Data Theft
Cybercriminals constantly seek vulnerabilities in servers and platforms to access users’ data. While gaming platforms prioritize fun and user experience, they must also protect personal and financial data. Recognizing this, many gaming companies have started focusing on strengthening their security measures. The 2020 Akamai State of the Internet/Research Report titled “Gaming in a Pandemic” indicated a 340% increase in web application attacks over the previous year, and a staggering 224% year-over-year increase in credential stuffing attacks in the gaming industry.
Phishing attacks are a common method used by cybercriminals to trick gamers into revealing sensitive information. These attacks involve sending emails or creating fake websites that appear to be from legitimate gaming companies, prompting users to enter their login credentials or other personal data. In 2023, the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) Report observed 1,624,144 phishing attacks in the first quarter of the year, the highest number ever recorded.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks
These are hostile attempts designed to disrupt online gaming services. They involve directing bot-generated traffic, created by remotely controlled and compromised computers and devices, towards the servers used by gaming platforms. These bots inundate the servers, overwhelming them and blocking legitimate users from accessing the gaming services. The motivations behind such attacks vary, but they often aim to damage a company’s reputation and cause financial losses by diminishing user engagement, leading to a marked decline in in-app purchases.
Additionally, DDoS attacks can serve as a diversion, drawing game developers’ attention away from more malicious attacks aimed at unauthorized access to users’ data. In some cases, these attacks are acts of revenge, possibly instigated by frustrated competitors. A notable instance of the rising prevalence of DDoS attacks includes one of the largest ever recorded, occurring in 2020 and successfully mitigated by AWS. Another example is the 387% increase in DDoS attacks in the second quarter of 2023 compared to the first quarter.
Video Game Cheating
This involves exploiting flaws in game development, such as code tampering, memory tampering, and bot usage, to create unfair advantages in online multiplayer games. Such cheating does more than just frustrate players who experience unfairness; it also diminishes player retention. The impact of cheating extends to in-app purchases and overall revenue generation, significantly damaging the reputation of companies and developers, potentially affecting future game releases. The 2018 Irdeto Survey, involves responses from several countries including major gaming nations like the US, UK, and China, revealed that cheats were present in 86% of the top 50 games on the Play Store. Furthermore, 75% of these apps failed basic security tests, making them susceptible to cheating attacks.
While the primary intent of these attacks is not to steal user data, they significantly alter the gameplay to unfairly benefit certain players over others. The detrimental effects of cheating are comparable to other forms of attacks in terms of financial losses and reputational damage to games, developers, game studios, and brands. The 2022 Irdeto survey further underscores the ongoing challenge of cheating in the gaming industry, highlighting its negative impact on monetization, player retention rates, and the profitability of game developers. An insightful article from VentureBeat discusses the challenges of cheating and how companies like Activision combat cheaters in games like Call of Duty: Warzone.
This tactic involves manipulating users into divulging confidential information, such as gaming account login credentials. It can also persuade users to compromise their PC or device security, exposing them to malware and other digital threats. This often occurs when gamers, seeking to gain an unfair advantage (e.g., cheating), are tricked into installing malicious software or instructed to disable their antivirus or other security measures. Perpetrators disguise themselves as trustworthy entities, using deceptive emails that appear genuine. These emails may alert users to supposed threats to their accounts, urging immediate action like password changes, with links leading to fraudulent login pages. These attacks exploit emotions and create a sense of urgency, capitalizing on human vulnerabilities rather than relying on advanced hacking techniques. According to Verizon’s report, 74% of data breaches involve the human element, highlighting the significant role of social engineering in cybersecurity threats.
These malicious attempts involve encrypting users’ game data and demanding a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key. This is similar to digital kidnapping, where the attacker holds the victim’s data hostage until a ransom is paid. This type of attack can significantly disrupt the gaming experience for affected gamers, directly impacting their participation and, in turn, potentially affecting the financial viability of gaming companies. In 2022, Statistica recorded a staggering 493 million ransomware attacks worldwide. Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report further revealed that email is used in 35% of ransomware incidents, while desktop-sharing software is utilized in 40% of cases.
The Importance of Secure In-Game Transactions
Ensuring secure in-game transactions is as crucial as creating engaging video games with stunning graphics and compelling storylines, especially if you aim for profitability and longevity. When building an online game that could potentially attract millions of players worldwide, be mindful that it will also draw malicious individuals. These individuals seek to exploit loopholes, profit from your hard work, and undermine the value of your efforts. A secure system not only benefits your players but is even more advantageous for you and your team.
Here are key reasons why prioritizing the security of in-game transactions is essential:
Trust is the cornerstone of any relationship, and once lost, it is challenging to regain. As developers or gaming companies, it’s crucial to view players as customers in an ongoing relationship. Gaining their trust initially and continually safeguarding it is of utmost importance. Demonstrating that their financial data is secure on your platform is a surefire way to build trust. Users naturally shy away from insecure gaming platforms, and any record of data breaches, especially those leading to financial losses, can quickly spread in today’s fast-paced, social media-driven world. Insecure transactions can deter players from making purchases, leading to a direct loss of income for developers.
Despite the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies, many users still rely on the traditional banking system for online transactions. Complying with industry standards like the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) reassures users and mitigates the risk of financial data breaches. As the gaming industry continues to flourish, regulations such as Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) have become mandatory in countries like the UK. Non-compliance can raise red flags among customers about the safety of your platform.
Protecting your brand reputation is critical. Frequent data breaches can tarnish the image of not just the affected game but also future releases. By protecting user data, you safeguard your reputation, retain existing users, boost their confidence, and attract new ones.
Another common cheating tactic employed by malicious individuals is to exploit vulnerabilities in poorly protected game platforms to obtain game credits and virtual purchases without actually making the necessary purchases. This unfair practice disrupts the balance of the gaming experience, discouraging other players and potentially leading to a decline in the game’s popularity. This can significantly impact the churn rate of a well-developed video game.
To maintain and grow the popularity of games over time, developers must implement robust security measures that earn and maintain player trust, ensuring the safety of virtual economies and in-game transactions. This commitment is key to fostering a reliable and fair gaming environment.
Safeguarding Players with Identity Verification and Authentication
To enhance the security of user accounts, the gaming industry can leverage advanced identity verification and authentication methods. These measures are crucial in protecting accounts against fraud, unauthorized access, and other security threats. Here are several authentication strategies that gaming platforms can implement:
- Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Familiar to many users from other applications and platforms, 2FA could be seamlessly integrated into gaming apps without the need for extensive tutorials. It requires users to provide two distinct forms of authentication to access their accounts. This usually includes something the user knows (like a password) and something the user possesses (such as a one-time password, or OTP, sent to their mobile device, or a code generated by an authentication app).
- Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): This method builds upon 2FA, requiring multiple authentication factors instead of just two. This might involve a combination of knowledge-based authentication (like a password), possession factors (such as a temporary code sent to a mobile device or generated by an authentication app), and inherence factors (biometrics like a fingerprint or facial recognition). MFA enhances security significantly, making it considerably more challenging for malicious actors to breach a player’s account.
- Biometrics: Many mobile devices now support biometric authentication, ranging from fingerprint scanning to facial recognition and advanced iris authentication systems, like Apple’s “Optic ID” in the VisionPro series. Biometrics provides a stronger layer of security when used as a standalone authentication method or in combination with other measures in 2FA and MFA systems.
- Verifiable Credentials (VC’s): VC’s are digital certificates that store verifiable information about individuals and entities, ensuring transparency and trustworthiness within the decentralized web ecosystem. By leveraging VC’s, gaming platforms can verify the authenticity of user identities and credentials. This makes it more difficult for malicious actors to impersonate legitimate players.
Know Your Gamer: Implementing KYC in Gaming
Know Your Customer (KYC) is a well-established practice in the financial sector and various industries. It has consistently demonstrated its value by helping organizations identify suitable customers and those who may not be eligible due to age, financial history, or other criteria. This approach enables organizations to effectively assess their risks and exposures. The same principle is urgently needed in the rapidly expanding gaming industry, which is a community-based sector that thrives on player interactions. In an industry where users engage not only with the company but also with other players, it is crucial to verify user identities to protect both the company and other players from harmful behaviors such as harassment, bullying, trolling, and fraud.
Gaming organizations can implement “Know Your Gamer” (KYG) requirements to verify user identities. By adopting identity verification methods, these organizations can minimize the presence of malicious actors who might disrupt gameplay or engage in fraudulent activities against the platform or other players, ultimately maintaining a safe gaming environment.
Key Benefits of Player Identity Verification for Gaming Platforms
The advantages of verifying player identities for gaming companies include:
Preventing Underage Access
Implementing KYG effectively prevents underage players from accessing the platform, ensuring compliance with age restrictions.
KYG enables gaming companies to verify the identity of players, which enhances overall security by preventing unauthorized access and making hacking attempts and fraudulent activities more difficult to execute.
The gaming industry is a community-based sector, and identity verification adds a human element to each account. When each new account represents a verified individual who is committed to contributing to a positive gaming experience, it automatically reduces toxicity within the community. This instills a sense of accountability among players. They are aware that repeated violations of community guidelines may lead to account suspension or deletion. Knowing that creating a new account is not a trivial task, and that their credentials are linked to each account, encourages users to be mindful of their actions.
In the battle against cheaters in the gaming industry, it is common for players to create new fake accounts after their discovered accounts are banned. However, implementing KYG policies makes this practice more challenging. For instance, if a company utilizes a third-party identity verification platform to handle user verification, developers can focus on other aspects of the game without needing to worry about identity verification themselves. The presence of an identity verification app as an intermediary complicates the previous method of easy account creation by bad actors.
With an identity verification system in place, mass account creation, typically conducted by bots, can be easily detected. Real users can be verified while preventing bot abuse.
Reusable Identity Credentials
Identity verification apps make KYG more convenient as players can verify their identity once and reuse those credentials across different gaming platforms and services.
This possibility facilitates efficient onboarding as users can access a new gaming platform without needing to sign up and provide all their details all over again. Instead, they can authenticate via their identity verification app and immediately begin exploring the new platform. This brings a seamless, fast, and efficient onboarding experience to players.
The Future of Identity Verification in Gaming with Identity.com
Concerned about the challenges of implementing Know Your Gamer (KYG) effectively on your gaming platform? Identity.com is set to provide a solution. Say goodbye to the hassle of navigating KYG implementation or finding the ideal identity verification tool. The Identity.com App is designed to alleviate these challenges efficiently.
Battling issues like fake accounts, fraud, bot abuse, and toxic behavior within your gaming community? Identity.com introduces a revolutionary approach for your development team to authenticate player identities and fortify your gaming environment. The Identity.com App enables users to handle their identity documents digitally, ensuring both privacy and security. These verifiable credentials, once verified, can be seamlessly shared with gaming platforms, confirming essential identity attributes such as age and location, without overexposing personal information.
Beyond safeguarding your players, the Identity.com App simplifies the management of users’ personal data. This frees you from the demanding task of data protection, letting you concentrate on creating engaging and enjoyable games. Far from being just a new tech to try, this app is a vital, effortless solution for game developers aiming for the best user experience. Enhance your gaming platform’s safety and enjoyment. Click below or visit this page to join as an early adopter and launch partner for the Identity.com App.
Throughout this article, we have addressed the multifaceted cybersecurity challenges confronting the gaming industry, while presenting developers with a comprehensive solution. The industry has long struggled with various security issues. These issues have intensified due to increased online activity during holiday seasons and the unforeseen situation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The surge in demand for online gaming has unfortunately also attracted a range of malicious activities, serving as a crucial reminder for game developers and companies to strengthen their platforms’ security.
Implementing Know Your Gamers (KYG) policies is a significant step towards fortifying the gaming ecosystem and enhancing player experiences. In response to these growing challenges, Identity.com introduces the Identity.com App, a secure and beneficial tool for game developers looking to upgrade their user experience in 2024.
Identity.com, as a future-oriented company, is helping many businesses by giving their customers a hassle-free identity verification process. Our company envisions a user-centric internet where individuals maintain control over their data. This commitment drives Identity.com to actively contribute to this future through innovative identity management systems and protocols.
As members of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), we uphold the standards for the World Wide Web and work towards a more secure and user-friendly online experience. Identity.com is an open-source ecosystem providing access to on-chain and secure identity verification. Our solutions improve the user experience and reduce onboarding friction through reusable and interoperable Gateway Passes. Please get in touch for more info about how we can help you with identity verification and general KYC processes.