Rising mobile internet penetration has also acted as a catalyst for the growth of app-based games in India, especially from tier two and tier three cities
Amid the sharp growth in the Indian gaming industry, three-quarters of Indian gamers (75 per cent) have experienced a cyber attack on their gaming account, most commonly detecting malicious software on a gaming device (35 per cent) and detecting unauthorised access (29 per cent), as per Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report titled Special Release Gaming and Cybercrime, conducted by The Harris Poll.
According to the report, of those who experienced a cyberattack, more than 4 in 5 (81 per cent) reported that they were financially impacted as a result and have lost Rs 7, 894 Indian rupees on average.
For better understanding, Country Sales Manager of Akamai India, Mitesh Jain in a conversation with BW Gaming World shed light on gaming, cyberattacks, the future of gaming in India and more.
Q. Tell us about the rise in cyberattacks after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ans- The Indian gaming industry is amongst the fastest growing in the world, in part due to the pandemic and rolling lockdowns experienced last year. In the living-with-COVID19 era, gaming has become a top form of entertainment. According to a recent report, the global gaming market will hit $175 billion in 2021 and the mobile game revenues will account for 52 per cent of this opportunity. Rising mobile internet penetration has also acted as a catalyst for the growth of app-based games in India, especially from tier two and tier three cities
Akamai has observed massive amounts of traffic and spikes in gaming platforms globally, with millions of users accessing these systems at once. As social distancing and work from home continue, people will continue to turn towards online gaming for entertainment and form socially distanced human connections.
In 2020, Akamai found that: Web attacks targeting the gaming industry were up 340 per cent year-on-year between 2019 and 2020. Credential stuffing and bot attacks were up 224 per cent. Although DDoS attack volumes dropped by 20 per cent, the attacks were massive, disrupting communications and gameplay.
Q. What can be the possible reasons for this rise in attacks?
Ans- There are several reasons for the rise in attacks. The criminals go where money and data goes. As more developers build in-app purchases into their gameplay and more transactions take place within games themselves, there is a greater opportunity for criminals to capture high-value data like banking information and personal identifiers. This increases their reward from targeting gamers and developers.
The pandemic and boom in gaming have accelerated the pace of development. In the rush to launch games, there has been a tendency in product teams to deprioritise security in favour of an earlier go-to-market date. The idea here often is that security can be patched on after the launch. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Security is also a mindset and an approach, something that needs to be built in right from the start – much like the brakes in a car – in order to prevent vulnerabilities.
Q. How can gamers avoid being targeted by cyber-attacks?
Ans- Game developers have a responsibility to protect the sanctity of the gaming environment and ensure security for their users. At the same time, gaming companies and gamers are interdependent in creating a secure gaming experience. Gamers need to understand the importance of taking the right steps in order to protect themselves.
Some basic but crucial tips for gamers to follow are: Installing and updating antivirus software, using unique passwords, multi-factor authentication, using VPN and avoiding clicking on unknown links.
Q. Do you think that Indian gaming companies are not equipped to deal with cyber-attacks?
Ans- It is an exciting time for gaming companies in India. However, as the market booms and traffic increases, people’s expectations for the quality and security of gaming platforms are going up as well. Developers need to focus on being able to meet these new expectations.
In order to meet these expectations, a security-by-design and Zero Trust approach is essential. These are more than a line of defence but a mindset and approach for the future. The framework dictates that only authenticated and authorised users and devices can access applications and data, ensuring that applications are never exposed. Security is also baked into the development process to ensure that applications and users are protected from advanced threats on the Internet.
Q. Is there any urgent requirement for heavy security as far as online gaming platforms are concerned?
Ans- There are over 560 million online gamers and over 250 million mobile gamers in India. In India too, the mobile gaming market will be worth $6-7 billion in 2025 from $1.8 billion at present.
However, with accelerated growth, product teams for many gaming companies ignored the security part to provide better speed and exclusive platform experiences. With the advent of the 5G network in India, the market is set for tremendous growth, this poses a lot of concerns for the gaming companies.
India’s gaming industry must overcome challenges around security and user experience. It is vital for companies to optimise their pre-game experience by providing faster, reliable downloads, improving user engagement and time spent on apps, increasing monetisation and in-game purchases. Gaming companies should ensure their content distribution and computing platforms utilise a secure infrastructure that protects customer data effectively while delivering a fast and reliable user experience.
Q. Can you explain the impact of future technologies such as 5G, AR/VR in creating a digital experience for gamers?
Ans- With AR (Augmented Reality) facial masks and filtering, players can customise their physical appearance to fit their role in the game or to match their mood. Coupled with VR, players can see each other’s reactions, cheer each other on, and socialise while they play games and create memories together.
Cloud gaming is another technology that will gain prominence, once the 5G network spreads across India at scale. It will act as a catalyst for gamers in providing a better gaming experience and security with deeper accessibility. As both consumers and gaming companies are trying to overcome the challenges around security and user experience, it’s important to work on the pre-game experience by providing faster, reliable downloads and improving user engagement.
With the advent of these future technologies, it is expected that content distribution and computing platforms will be able to utilise a secure infrastructure to safeguard customer data while delivering the best user experience possible. Multi-factor authentication will become an even more prominent part of security for the gamers with better connectivity and availability of 5G infrastructure, which will ultimately reduce the risk of remote login to gamers multiple gaming accounts.