With the rapid rise of malicious and high-risk mobile apps in a game-loving nation like the Philippines, security firm Trend Micro has gathered mobile game developers from around Asia to set up the Safe Gaming Alliance, signifying its new focus on the mobile gaming industry built upon its experience in the mobile and social networking space.
According to a recent online poll conducted by Trend Micro, at least 46 percent of consumers in Philippines have encountered or downloaded fake or risky apps on their mobile devices while 17 percent do not know if their mobile devices are infected with malware or viruses.
In this light, Trend Micro, together with game developers, is introducing Dr. Safety mobile security app which is now available in the rest of the Asia Pacific.
Featuring six secure game technologies including a security certified games recommendations feature, the app ensures consumers are downloading legitimate gaming apps for the best possible mobile gaming experience.
Mobile gaming developers forming part of the Safe Gaming Alliance include AppXplore, CreatioSoft, FunPlus, Games Solution Centre ? Singapore, Gamiana, Gumi Asia, Monkey Wrench Games, PIGSSS GAMES, Softstar Entertainment, and Tuttifrutti Interactive.
?Smartphone penetration in the Philippines continues to grow consistently every year. Along with this growth, we are also seeing an increase in mobile game app downloads. In a country where consumers rely heavily on in-app advertisements for recommendations, it makes it even easier for cybercriminals to target unsuspecting consumers to download malicious apps through mobile advertising. This puts more Filipino at risk of cyberattacks,? said Terrence Tang, senior director of consumer business for Asia Pacific at Trend Micro.
?By working together with the mobile gaming ecosystem, we can offer a trusted and secure platform for Filipinos, sparring them the worry of downloading fake or risky mobile game apps that are pre-loaded with malicious content,? Tang said.
Mobile gaming landscape in PH and beyond
In Asia where mobile and social networking are intricate parts of daily lives, explosive growth of mobile gaming industry is anticipated.
According to a report from Dutch-based research firm Newzoo, mobile-games revenue will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 27.3 percent until 2016.
The report also cited that the Asia-Pacific region is by far the biggest market for mobile games with 48 percent of global revenue.
In addition, Trend Micro?s recent online poll surveying more than 2,000 respondents from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines confirmed that consumers in Asia have a robust appetite for mobile gaming.
Yet, with the extensive usage of mobile phones for gaming, many consumers remain vulnerable to mobile threats. Key findings of the online poll include:
? Consumers in the Philippines are avid gamers ? 85 percent of respondents in the Philippines play mobile games at least once a week, with 53 percent gaming daily. In terms of mobile gaming app downloads, 51 percent of consumers download gaming apps weekly, while 23 percent download gaming apps monthly.
? While consumers in the Philippines love mobile gaming, many are not willing to spend more than $2 on mobile gaming apps ? 71 percent of respondents in the Philippines will not pay more than $2 per app.
? Filipino parents are most involved in their children?s mobile gaming habits, ranking first in Southeast Asia ? 58 percent of respondents in the Philippines are aware of what their children play on mobile devices and 60 percent of respondents game frequently with family members and friends.
? Filipinos are receptive towards in-app advertisements and rely on mobile advertisements for recommendations ? 68 percent of respondents in the Philippines do not mind in-app advertisements.
? Existing anti-virus apps do not offer adequate protection ? Despite 69 percent of respondents in the Philippines using security or anti-virus app on mobile devices, 46 percent still encountered fake or risky apps.
? Most consumers in the Philippines do not check if their apps are authentic ? Only 24 percent of respondents in the Philippines check their apps following download from the app stores.
Mobile vulnerability timeline
The number of mobile malware and high-risk apps hit 2 million according to Trend Micro?s first quarter security roundup for 2014.
The mobile threat landscape is quickly resembling today?s PC threat landscape wherein vulnerabilities are discovered one after another since June 2013.
The Android ?master key? vulnerability, which affected almost all devices, could make any mobile malware ?legitimate.? Shortly after, vulnerabilities in device accessories like SIM cards and fake iPhone chargers also came to the fore.
A platform bug that could also trap a device in an endless reboot loop and another that could leak user data soon followed. Most recently, the Heartbleed vulnerability posed a risk to mobile devices.
It is no secret that cybercriminals are actively repacking popular mobile gaming apps for malicious intent. These apps are not only hosted on malicious sites but even in legitimate app stores.
One good example is the recent case of trojanized Flappy Bird, which was repackaged and injected with malicious code and downloaded by countless of unsuspecting users within the first 24 hours following the announcement of the official apps? withdrawal from the app store.