Security Practices In Game Design and Development

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The most common pass time in today’s world is playing a game online. Whether you are a teenager or an oldie there is a game available for you. We all are familiar with games like Candy Crush, Mini Militia Pokemon Go, PUBG etc. A majority of the software development sector today is employed in the video game industry. It is also one of the most sought after because that’s where the money is!

The history of game design and development dates back to the time of Mainframe computers. They were initially designed to test networks and functioning of the software. As computers and the internet evolved, more and more development took place.
Today the gaming world is a serious business. One can find a game development company having a turnover of millions of dollars. With so much money involved, there arises an obvious threat. Hackers are present worldwide to tab the data of players. It can be their personal information or even financial. It is easier to hack a gaming platform than hacking a bank website. With this lingering threat, arises the concept of cybersecurity in gaming. Game designing is a very creative and technical field to work with. Naturally, it has attracted a large crowd of young developers to take up game development as a profession. Every year the number of students enrolling for a degree in game design is increasing. There are newer technologies like AR VR Development, picking up a fast pace and growing the game domain. It transports the player out of the real world. These require experts for development as well as security. Development studios are willing to pay people with such capabilities. Building a secure gaming environment is in their favor as it helps them attract a number of gamers willing to play. Thus, these development services improving security prove to be very fruitful.

Ways To Improve Security:

The most remarkable invention of this century is the internet. It has changed the way we live all across the globe. It’s increased dependencies have not only made lives easier but also brought people closer. This has opened doors wide for online gaming.

Every smartphone user today at some point has been a part of online gaming. According to stats, In the first half of 2018 alone, 19.5 million game downloads were recorded on Google Play and Apple app store. For game developers, as much this is an asset, it has raised some serious online gaming security issues. The crimes in the gaming industry are almost as old as the industry itself. Previously what was limited to duplication and pirated copies has now turned into swindling money from players through hacking. Game programming is no longer only about developing a game. The game design and development has many other aspects attached to it. It’s also much about security and maintaining the industry standards.

Online gaming is all about the thrill it creates. It’s not only about competing against your friends but against the best players in the world. This lucrative setup is the cause of online gaming security issues. There are countries that have cyber borders to prevent it but the smart gamer avoids those by employing techniques like VPN (Virtual Private Network).
The modern user is aware of security breach occurrences in the area of gaming. The problem is that they do not know exactly how it takes place. Activities like phishing, password stealing, fake crack files and fake apps done by hackers are difficult for a layman’s understanding.
Recently multiple game security violations were detected with games, like Minecraft, Fortnite, and League of Legends to name a few.

The most remarkable invention of this century is the internet. It has changed the way we live all across the globe. It’s increased dependencies have not only made lives easier but also brought people closer. This has opened doors wide for online gaming.

Every smartphone user today at some point has been a part of online gaming. According to stats, In the first half of 2018 alone, 19.5 million game downloads were recorded on Google Play and Apple app store. For game developers, as much this is an asset, it has raised some serious online gaming security issues. The crimes in the gaming industry are almost as old as the industry itself. Previously what was limited to duplication and pirated copies has now turned into swindling money from players through hacking. Game programming is no longer only about developing a game. The game design and development has many other aspects attached to it. It’s also much about security and maintaining the industry standards.

Online gaming is all about the thrill it creates. It’s not only about competing against your friends but against the best players in the world. This lucrative setup is the cause of online gaming security issues. There are countries that have cyber borders to prevent it but the smart gamer avoids those by employing techniques like VPN (Virtual Private Network).
The modern user is aware of security breach occurrences in the area of gaming. The problem is that they do not know exactly how it takes place. Activities like phishing, password stealing, fake crack files and fake apps done by hackers are difficult for a layman’s understanding.
Recently multiple game security violations were detected with games, like Minecraft, Fortnite, and League of Legends to name a few.

Following are some of the threats that a developer may come across:

1) Cross-site scripting 

Also known as the XSS attack, it makes use of third-party web resources. This enables the attacker to steal cookies, log keystrokes, capture screenshots, collect network information, and remotely access and control the victim’s machine.

2) Denial-Of-Service attack

This attack confuses the victim’s resources and they fail to function. Consequently, there is no response to service requests. Other attacks are mostly designed to enable the attacker to gain or increase access, but denial-of-service doesn’t provide direct benefits for attackers.

3) Birthday Attack

This attack is created against hash algorithms. A hash function generates a message digest (MD) which is of fixed length. An attacker easily calculates his message MD. He then replaces the user’s message by his message. Digital signatures are most susceptible to this attack. The peculiarity of this attack is that the receiver cannot detect the fraud even by calculating MD.

Thus, for any game development company, some points are to be kept in mind for cyber security:

1) Secure Servers:

Any higher level designer would give an opinion that online servers are the easiest target. It is also the most targeted due to the amount of sensitive data it holds.

Just as it is very important to protect your game application, it is equally necessary for your servers to be theft free. Installing firewalls, intrusion detection systems, conducting files audit, and QA tests.

2) Threat Modeling Analysis:

Threat modeling analysis is a comprehensive assessment method employed during the development of the project under scrutiny. Special attention is paid to sources of UDP and unauthenticated data arriving from users or clients. Such analysis is largely used for video game security.

3) Penetration and Vulnerability Testing:

Ethical hacking is the most ideal way to find out the loopholes in the game developed. It helps us realize the weak points in our software. It goes beyond normal data integration solutions and authenticity with an aim to play a white hat hacker.

4) Use Automated Tools:

Game developers can make use of some automated tools which will help them in building a secure and hassle-free product:

  • PreFast: It is a free tool offered by Microsoft. It operates its working through all execution paths. It uses C/C++ to detect bugs that are often left undetected by the compiler.
  • Windows Application Verifier: Commonly it is known as AppVerifier. It is a tool that makes common programming errors more detectable. AppVerifier checks parameters passed to API call, injects erroneous input to check error handling ability, and logs changes to the registry and file system.

What a Player can do?

Contrary to what the developers do, it is an equal responsibility of a user to follow some steps when gaming:

  • Always opt for multi-factor authentication.
  • Use a long and complex password.
  • Always read permissions before agreeing to them.
  • It is advisable to not use the email i.d. used for official purposes
  • If you engage with in-app purchases, avoid storing information about your credit/debit cards on your gaming console.
  • Practice safe browsing.
  • Always keep privacy settings ON.

Conclusion:

In summary, it can be said that the game development industry can achieve phenomenal success. The only catch is to build a secure playing environment. A huge scope lies in the gaming design and development field. With the advancement of new technologies, crime patterns are going to change and improve. But, it is important that game developers always remain a step ahead of them.

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