Hacking is serious business. But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. These Android and iOS games can help you step back from the security threats all around and have a little fun. From tower defense style games of strategy to immersive VR environments or even a text-based story, these mobile apps will help you stretch your imagination and possibly even your skills.
Hackers pits you against other real world players in a tower defense style strategy game. The hacking is visualized as 3D networks that players construct to protect their mainframes. You build up your own network while obtaining and upgrading tools to attack others either through brute force attacks or via stealth with three distinct mission types. The game is free to play with in-app purchases available for game currency if you are looking to speed your upgrade process.
In Hack Ex, players face off against one another by attempting to crack into bank accounts and upload viruses to generate funds to further their hacking efforts. Breaking into other hackers devices also allows you to spy on your opponents and then cover your tracks by manipulating logs. Players locate targets by scanning and identifying IPs with a Firewall that is near their Bypasser level, the greater the discrepancy between these levels the less likely a hack will prove successful. Players use the in-game currency (Bitcoin) to purchase new hacking utilities or superior smartphones. The game is free to play with in-app purchases for additional Bitcoins or Overclocks to boost your devices.
Hacker’s Quest is an offline text-based game that takes you through a compelling story via a simulated terminal that old school computer users (or Matrix fans) will love. The game follows a much more realistic depiction of hacking than most with a good deal of social engineering in place of pure hardware and software getting the job done. Knowledge of terminal commands is going to make the early levels pretty easy, but with 55 levels of hacking puzzles there is still plenty to enjoy. The game is free to play with the developer just asking you to pay what you want at the end, if you liked the game.
Apologies to real hackers, but Cyber Hacker is the closest thing to an actual hacking simulation you will find on Android or iOS. The game is essentially puzzle solving with password cracking, viruses, DDoS attacks and a healthy dose of social engineering as the tools of your trade. The game begins with you as a fledgling freelance hacker doing jobs for Bitcoin. Even at the earliest stages the threat of Interpol tracking you down is a constant. While learning to take advantage of all the tools at your disposal is critical (definitely take the tutorial), skills such as remembering the structure of various file systems and properly phishing employees before attempting a hack are just as vital. While this game is certainly still a reductive version of hacking, it offers a more complete picture than most and should scratch the itch for fans of the genre.
Hack RUN Series
The Hack RUN series is a text-based interactive story game that has spawned five titles on iOS, with the original two available on Android. The games all follow the same general structure: you are using a terminal interface to hack into the accounts of employees within the shadowy RUN organization to uncover information and increase your skills. As with many of these hacking games the game really amounts to puzzle solving and reading comprehension as you seek to identify the valuable information in emails, notes and websites you find within the system. While the gameplay isn’t going to be a gateway to hacking greatness, the underlying story is interesting and the developer continues to churn out sequels on a regular basis to keep fans engaged.
Where some of the games on this list lean toward a real-world depiction of hacking, Darknet for Gear VR and (soon) Daydream is very much a cheesy movie version of hacking and cyberspace. That feels appropriate for VR however, much more so than putting on a VR headset and staring at a terminal screen. This game is truly just a puzzler in hackers clothing. You view networks as a series of nodes with a golden core node to capture by infecting nearby blue antivirus nodes. Capturing a core node gets you money to upgrade your tools and purchase additional viruses.
More Hacking Fun
Beyond the security scares, hacking has infiltrated many parts of pop culture, including our movies. Check out our list of the Best and Worst Hacking in Movies to tell us if you agree or if we’ve got it all wrong. And if you haven’t already seen it I recommend you check out Mr. Robot and The IT Crowd. But, if you’re looking to get into the ethical side of the business, check out our How to Become a White Hat Hacker.