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Five Critical Threats to Mobile Games and Five Vital Security Measures

As mobile games gain increasing popularity, they have become prime targets for hackers. This solution brief identifies the critical threats facing mobile games and outlines key strategies to safeguard them.

What Are the Top Five Threats to Mobile Games?

  1. Personal Data Theft and Abuse: Hackers aim to steal game assets or sensitive personal data. This can lead to disrupted gameplay, manipulation of virtual currency, and compromised financial data stored on devices or within the game.

  2. Illicit Copies of Games: Cloned or repackaged games present a security risk as they enable hackers to exploit popular titles for profit. These copies may harbor malware or malicious code to gain unauthorized access to personal data, including login credentials and financial information. Additionally, some cloned games promote cheating and may introduce bugs and crashes, posing a threat to the game's reputation.

  3. In App Purchase Fraud: In-app purchase bypassing is a significant threat that results in revenue loss and undermines the game's integrity, potentially affecting player engagement.

  4. Cheating: Emulators can create unfair advantages in competitive games, particularly when combined with keyboard and mouse controls or automated scripts, disadvantaging players using touch controls and disrupting gameplay balance. Certain emulator software provides pre-built scripts or hacks like wallhacks and aimbots, compromising the integrity of competitive play. Emulators form untrusted sources can also pose a security risk as they may contain malware or spyware.

  5. Stealing and Abusing Secrets from Mobile Games: The theft of secrets such as API Keys, poses a significant risk to the security of mobile applications and the integrity of backend systems. Mobile apps are often vulnerable to storing these keys in easily accessible ways. While obfuscation can make it more challenging to extract secrets from source code, hackers can still seize opportunities at runtime by manipulating the app, its environment, or communication channels.

Five Ways To Protect your Mobile Games

  1. Anti-tampering: Identify unauthorized code alterations on the client device through methods like integrity checking, root detection, and emulator detection.

  2. App Attestation: Verify that an app is authentic and running on a trusted device. This technique can be used to prevent hackers from cloning app code and can identify modifications or repackaging attempts. 

  3. Runtime Application Self Protection (RASP): Monitor the device's memory to identify recognized cheating tools or detect instances where a user is utilizing a game emulator. Additionally, this method can thwart malicious code and terminate the app to stop vulnerabilities being exploited.

  4. Protect the Communications Channel to the APIs: Mobile apps are vulnerable to Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks, even with TLS encryption. MitM tools like 'mitmproxy' can be used to intercept traffic and manipulate it to steal data or keys, bypassing even two-factor authentication (2FA). Certificate pinning is recommended to protect this channel.

  5. Get Secrets out of your App Code: Avoid hardcoding sensitive data directly in the client-side of a mobile app to prevent exposing secrets via reverse engineering. Developers should remove secrets from their code, securely manage cryptographic keys, and ensure proper key rotation to maintain ongoing security.

Approov Provides Easy, Fast, Effective Protection for Mobile Games

Approov Mobile Security offers robust protection for mobile gaming apps and APIs, enabling mobile game developers and studios to outpace mobile cheaters, hacks, and player emulator platforms. Approov's mobile runtime application self-protection (RASP):

  • Is simple to integrate with minimal impact on game development
  • Does not impact the game performance
  • Provides 100% accuracy, avoiding security false positives that could disrupt user experience
  • Allows immediate adjustments to secrets and policies via over-the-air updates without the need for code updates or the deployment of new game versions
  • Integrates seamlessly into your DevOps pipeline, ensuring immediate and effective protection without added complexity or management overhead.

Key Benefits of the Approov Solution

  • Block Illegal App Copies
  • Detect and Defend Against Cheating Tools and Emulators
  • Detect Rooted, Jailbroken and Modified Devices
  • Protect Against Runtime Attacks on the Game
  • Stop Man-in-the-Middle Attacks
  • Prevent Exploitation of Secrets

    Approov Dynamic Certificate Pinning diagram


Download the full version of the solution brief

 Approov Mobile Gaming Solution Brief Cover


Download the full version of the solution brief


Approov Mobile Gaming Solution Brief Cover



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