Shock! IT Security Threat May Cost Mobile Games Hundreds of Millions in Revenues in Just a Few Hours

2016/08/10

A difference of a few hours in listing time between Taiwan and China led to the leak of an illegal version that cost a local game developer in Taiwan hundreds of millions in lost revenues.    

"Pokemon Go" became a global phenomenon but the American IT security company Proofpoint discovered that the game was cracked by hackers less than 72 hours after it became available for download. This allowed players in countries where it was not yet available to download the game as well. While the number of countries where there the game is now legally available is starting to increase, it still caused serious losses to Nintendo which spent two years developing the game. A difference of a few hours in listing time between Taiwan and China led to the leak of an illegal version that players could download without paying. This was estimated to have cost the developer in Taiwan hundreds of millions in lost revenue. 


Hackers often target popular mobile games to demonstrate their high-speed cracking skills and bask in the glory of online popularity. They also profit immensely from the trading and advertising revenues. They may decompile the source-code to quickly produce a copycat game, or use cheats to change gold and attack power, depriving the developer/publisher of revenue and creating an unbalanced playing environment. When players discover that their hard-earned experience can be overtaken or killed in the blink of an eye, they'd rather abandon their account than deal with the unfair competition. This causes steep drops in game revenues or even financial loss. 

Game developers must carry out a security evaluation before their product is launched. Testing by IT security labs however cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and takes 3 to 5 working days. Despite the massive outlay, developers still cannot launch their product right away and risk missing out on market opportunities. 

Developers and publishers may see no return on the manpower and funding they allocate to IT protection. Digicentre has been certified on "Basic IT security review for mobile applications" by the Industrial Development Bureau of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. It provides a comprehensive security test that covers 20 items and can deliver a risk assessment report within half a day. 


Digicentre also provides appGuard protection to vulnerable vendors. It adds the equivalent of a protective shield to the outside of the program. Whenever the developer or publisher releases a new game or version, they simply log into their appGuard account and upload the APK. The program is then secured within 10 minutes. The elimination of complicated processes that take up time and money provides a great boost to returns. 

appGuard's IT protection technology is a unique invention from Taiwan. It does not need the source code to encrypt the software and make it difficult for even the most talented hackers to crack. At the same time, it also blocks debuggers and prevents cheats. Many cracked games modify the memory to greatly increase the player level or make the game free to play. The monitoring and security technology of appGuard makes debuggers, game cheats, ptrace, and other tools completely useless. In many cases, cracked software is re-packaged to contain malicious code that exposes the mobile phones of unwary downloaders to attack. appGuard offers a complete verification mechanism that checks the code and resource files for signs of tampering so that protective mechanisms can be triggered right away. 

Mobile game developers or publishers must ensure that users can use their products in the most secure environment without being exposed to threats. Strengthening IT protection not only protects users' rights but also provides a fair, equal gaming environment. This is the only way to consolidate revenues, maintain player loyalty and enhance brand image.