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  • Anjali Yadav

The Growing Concern: Cybersecurity Threats in the Online Gaming Industry

Anjali Yadav,

University of Allahabad

Cybersecurity:- Threats to online gaming industry

Introduction 

In the growing digital flow of India, the online gaming industry has also emerged as a vibrant sector, involving millions of players with its top experiences and interactive gameplay. However, along with the emerging success , there is sort of danger– cybersecurity threats. As the industry continues to grow, it becomes increasingly vulnerable to malicious actors seeking to exploit it’s weaknesses in the digital industry. “In this article, the growing cybersecurity threats faced by the online gaming industry is examined. We explore the various types of threats, such as information breaches and cyber-attacks, and their potential economic impact on gamers. It discuss the measures taken by gaming companies to enhance the security and stability of their networks and systems.”

What is cybersecurity ? 

Cybersecurity emerges from cyberspace, the virtual world where all the online action happens. It’s like a digital composition made up of computers, networks, and the internet. When you send messages, shop online, or play games on the web, you’re actually navigating through cyberspace. Cybersecurity is all about protecting computers, servers, networks, and data from digital attacks. It involves implementing measures to prevent unauthorized access, data breaches, and other cyber threats. Cybersecurity aims to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information stored digitally. It is like having a digital bodyguard for your devices and information which keeps your data safe from online bad guys who try to sneak in and cause trouble. Just like how you lock your door to keep unwanted visitors out of your house, cybersecurity helps keep hackers away from your digital stuff. Organizations and individuals use cybersecurity tools and practices to safeguard their sensitive data and systems from cybercriminals and hackers. It’s like having a digital shield to defend against online threats.

There has been increase in targeted cyber-attacks against the gaming sector, with a 167% increase in web application attacks in 2021 alone. 2022 has seen the industry become most targeted industry with respect to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. An example of this can be observed during a 2015 League of Legends match (Denial VS Dignitas) whereby the favoured contestant, Denial, was hit via a DDoS attack. By locking the player out the game and denying re-entry, his team had to forfeit the game, and consequently any chances of winning. Assuming the threat actor had placed a wager on Dignitas to win (only 8% had placed for them) at 12:1 odds, they would have been heavily rewarded.[i]( SecurityHQ, October 2022)

According to cybersecurity firm NortonLifeLock, 75% of gamers surveyed in India have experienced a cyberattack on their gaming account. About 35 % of them detected malicious software on a gaming device while 29% detected unauthorised access to an online gaming account (The Hindu).[ii]

Rise of Gaming culture to digital media: 

The online gaming industry in India has experienced exponential growth, supported by factors like growing smartphone usage, accessible internet, and a youths eager for digital entertainment. Despite its success, the industry faces an invisible cybersecurity threat, which seek to disrupt gameplay, compromise player data, and break trust in online platforms. Online gaming has witnessed rapid growth, with platforms like Steam, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, and mobile app stores providing access to a plenty of games. 

Cybersecurity breaches not only disrupt gameplay and financial transactions but also effects the industry’s reputation, deterring potential players and exposing gaming companies to legal and regulatory liabilities.

Types of cyber threats 

•   DDoS Attack Problem: 

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks pose a significant risk by flooding gaming servers with excessive traffic, making them inaccessible to legitimate players. These attacks are a serious concern for online gaming platforms. They can be carried out by individuals or groups using malicious tactics, aiming to extort money from gaming companies or gain an advantage over competitors by disrupting their games. In 2023, there was a 300% increase in DDoS attacks targeting online gaming platforms compared to the previous year. 

•   Gaming Cheating and Exploits: 

Cheats, hacks, and exploits allow players to gain unfair advantages, such as aimbots, wall hacks, or exploits that bypass game rules, compromising the fairness of gameplay. Cheating undermines the competitive integrity of online games, leading to frustration, distrust, and a decrease in player participation. In 2023, the gaming industry experienced a 25% rise in malware infections linked to cheating software downloads. 

•   Phishing and Fraud: 

Cybercriminals use phishing scams and financial fraud schemes to exploit weaknesses in online payment systems, deceive players, and compromise their financial and personal information. In 2023, phishing accounted for 40% of all reported security incidents in the gaming sector. 

•   Social Engineering Tactics: 

Social engineering attacks use psychological manipulation to trick players into sharing sensitive information or installing malware, resulting in identity theft and unauthorized access to gaming accounts. In 2022, the most prevalent attack on the gaming industry was cross-site scripting at 32.2%, mainly due to a targeted attack on a popular online role-playing game in June 2022. 

•   AI-Driven Attacks: 

Cybercriminals utilize AI technologies to create various attacks that evade traditional security measures, including AI-powered malware, chatbots, and social engineering tactics. These attacks can target vulnerable players, disrupt in-game economies, and distribute cheating tools with high efficiency, presenting a significant challenge for developers and players. 

•   Data Breaches: 

Online gaming platforms store large amounts of sensitive user data, such as personal details, payment information, and gaming preferences, making them attractive targets for cybercriminals. This can lead to identity theft, financial fraud, and harm to the reputation of gaming companies, undermining trust among players and stakeholders. In 2023 alone, there were more than 100 reported data breaches in the gaming industry, exposing millions of users to potential identity theft and fraud.    

Ways to Protect 

Protectors of the Field: Cybersecurity professionals are essential for securing the industry, using advanced encryption protocols, intrusion detection systems, and real-time monitoring tools to counter threats.

 Secure your gaming data by locking it up with encryption and strong passwords, similar to storing it in a secure vault. Ensure that your passwords function as exclusive keys that are only known to you.

Keep your gaming platforms and servers fresh by regularly updating them for security purposes, just as you would update your gaming avatar’s outfit.

 Keep connected with DDoS Protection: Picture DDoS protection like a shield safeguarding your gaming servers from large attacks, allowing you to continue playing without any disruptions.

Understanding the rules through user education is similar to familiarizing yourself with the rules of a new game. Educate yourself and fellow gamers on online dangers to ensure everyone plays responsibly and intelligently. Teaching players about typical online dangers, advocating for the adoption of multi-factor authentication, and promoting careful behavior on the internet are crucial steps in preventing social engineering attacks and safeguarding player information.

Methods to Prevent Cheating: Cheaters will never succeed! Utilize anti-cheat software to ensure a level playing field and an enjoyable gaming experience for all players.

Secure your payment information by using secure payment processing. Treat it as valuable as your most prized gaming loot and be cautious of potential thieves.

Collaborate with cybersecurity professionals, researchers, industry partners, and law enforcement agencies to share intelligence on threats and create proactive defense plans.

Utilizing AI-powered security solutions: Using machine learning algorithms to identify and address new security risks. Increasing player knowledge and understanding of the dangers presented by AI-driven attacks and tactics used in social engineering.

Rules and regulations in India 

In Indian legal system, laws for prevention of such attacks are given below:-

A year ago, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY[iii]) released some rules for online games as follows:

•       Online games have to be registered with Self Regulatory Body (SRB).

•       Following due diligence.

•       Random number generation certificate. 

•       Restrictions on betting.  

•       Appointment of a compliance officer. 

Information Technology Act, 2000:- It is the main rulebook for anything related to technology and the internet in India. It lays out how digital stuff, like emails, transactions, and online activities, should be handled and secured.

•       Section 43 , IT act 2000 addresses unauthorized access to computer systems, networks, and data, along with penalties for actions like data extraction, contamination, and denial of access.

•       Amended Section 43 covers offenses such as stealing, concealing, deleting, or altering computer code with the intent to cause harm.

•       Section 43(e)and (f) specially mention denial of service attacks as punishable offenses, with provisions for compensation.

•       Section 66C of the IT Act of 2008 focuses on password hacking, digital signatures, and identity theft, particularly regarding wrongful acquisition of personal information and unique identification numbers like bank details, PAN, and Aadhaar.

•       Section 70(B) , IT Act, 2000, laid the foundation for Indian Computer Emergency Response Team 

(CERT- In) guides about protection policies and regulations and includes all do’s and don’t.[iv] 

IT Rules, 2021: These are like specific guidelines added to the rulebook mentioned above. They tell online gaming platforms how to protect users’ data, manage content, and ensure everything runs smoothly and safely online.

Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB): Imagine this as a shield for your personal information online. Even though it’s not officially a law yet, it aims to safeguard your data privacy and control how companies handle your personal info.

Indian Penal Code (IPC): The Best book of laws that cover various crimes, including cybercrimes. So, if someone tries to hack into a gaming platform or commits fraud online, these laws come into play to deal with them. IPC Sections 292, 293, and 294 deal with any kind of transfer of obscene materials or the speaking, portraying, etc. of obscene gestures as cognizable offence.

Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007: This law focuses on how money transactions should work in India. It’s relevant to online gaming because many games involve buying stuff or making payments within the game.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Guidelines: RBI sets rules for banks and financial transactions. So, when you’re using real money in online games, the guidelines from RBI ensure that those transactions are secure and fraudfree.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Regulations: While TRAI mainly deals with phone and internet services, its rules also touched on data security and privacy. So, they can impact how online gaming platforms handle your personal information and communications . 

Future generations 

Imagine a world where the virtual games you cherish so much are more than just digital dots on your screen but a doorway to adventure, companionship and non-stop thrill. However, the arena game presents risks that are invisible to us: secret hackers and unidentified cybercriminals who threaten to destroy our digital universe. Picture the utter disappointment of a young gamer who logs in eagerly only to see all his progress wiped away by a malicious attack, or the panic in a parent’s eyes as they fear for their child’s online safety. These threats aren’t simply digital; they are real-world problems that can dent trust and confidence of future generations in the online gaming domain. Nevertheless, within this pandemonium we hold out hope—whispered pleas for better security systems, stronger defenses, and a time when no player will have to fear. We should participate in this and provide safer security measures that can avoid these kinds of attacks.

Conclusion  

By studying the cybersecurity scene in the online gaming industry, it’s demonstrated that dangers like DDoS assaults, hacking, phishing, and cheating posture critical dangers to both gamers and diversion engineers. These dangers not as it were have affect on the judgment of the gaming involvement but moreover compromise client protection and money related security.

To relieve these dangers, it’s vital for partners in the online gaming biological system to prioritize cybersecurity measures. This incorporates actualizing strong encryption conventions, routinely overhauling security frameworks, conducting exhaustive client instruction campaigns to raise mindfulness almost common dangers like phishing tricks, and cultivating collaboration with cybersecurity specialists to remain ahead of rising dangers. By taking proactive steps to improve cybersecurity, the online gaming industry can way better secure its clients and defend the future of gaming as a secure and pleasant computerized encounter for all. Moreover, cultivating collaboration and sharing risk insights over the gaming community will be fundamental in remaining ahead of advancing cyber dangers and guaranteeing a more secure and more agreeable gaming environment for all.  

References 

Bureau, O. (2021) 75% of Indian gamers have experienced cyberattack: Survey, BusinessLine. 

Barlow, E. (2022) Cyber security threats in gaming industry at an all-time high, SecurityHQ.

Gaming cyber threats: Risks & impacts: Imperva (2023) Blog. https://www.imperva.com/blog/cyber-attacksgaming-industry/ (Accessed: 11 May 2024). 

Hendrickson, L. (2024) Cybersecurity challenges in the gaming industry, Identity.  https://www.identity.com/cybersecurity-challenges-in-the-gaming-industry/ (Accessed: 9 May 2024).  

Staff, S. (2022) Top 3 web attack vectors in the gaming industry, Security Magazine RSS. Available at:

Enhancing India’s cybersecurity capacity – India Cyber Games Way Hindustan Times, https://www.hindustantimes.com/brand-stories/enhancing-india-s-cybersecurity-capacity-india-cyber-gamesway-101676018319623.html (last visited May 10, 2024) 

R. Masas, (2023). Gaming Cyber Threats: Risks & Impacts [Online]. Imperva. Available at: https://www.imperva.com/blog/cyber-attacks-gaming-industry/ (Accessed: 11 May 2024). 


[i] .Cyber Security Threats in Gaming Industry at an All-time High, SecurityHQ, https://www.securityhq.com/blog/cyber-securitythreats-in-gaming-industry-at-an-all-time-high/ (last visited May 11, 2024). 

[ii] Cybersecurity threats in online gaming: Learnings for India, Hindustan Times, https://www.hindustantimes.com/htinsight/future-tech/cybersecurity-threats-in-online-gaming-learnings-for-india-101707406925574.html (last visited May 11, 2024).

[iii] Gaming companies welcome new online gaming rules notified by MeitY, BusinessLine,

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