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Online Gameplay a Cause for Concern

Online gaming has presented moral and legal issues since its inception. There are those who play by the rules and those who do not. These issues and the issue of security in onling gaming will present a preview of problems that will emerge in the coming years, claims one of the presenters at a conference on electronic crime.

Gary McGraw, chief technology officer at Cigital Inc., a firm that specialises in software security, claims that the server-client architecture used prominently by Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying games or MMORPGs, is taking off in other domains, as other business sectors try to find ways to exploit the interactive potential of the Internet.

"Exploiting Online Games," was the title of McGraws keynote address at this years, "eCrime' 07," an academic conference on electronic crime.

The interactivity that is seen in MMORPGs is increasingly being quoted as the next big thing in everything from scoial networking to Web-based applications that allow users to write documents online. Such technology is apparent on gaming websites such as Curse, who utilize Web 2.0 or, "service-orientated architecture." This allows one to work from any computer connected to the Internet and removes the reliance and restriction of a single personal computer.

McGraw was quick to point out that this comes with a price. When a player interacts with an environment, such as moving around in World of Warcraft, his position is defined by his PC. The game server, which continually updates all players' activity accepts whatever the PC tells it to.

McGraw then goes on to say that, as long as the player is opperating within the definitions of the rules, that is fine. A hacker however, can use teleport hacks to instantly transport to any location in the gaming environment, for example, and this give an unfair advantage over others who are playing.

While companies and governments attempt to educate users on how to interact with the Internet and MMOGs more securely, McGraw directs his message at the developers.

Most people who build our systems don't think about bad guys when they build, and that turns out to be a mistake. There are in fact people who want to cheat and who want to make your program fail in interesting ways. Think about what those people might do and design your programs to prevent that.

Despite this warning however there are already well known anti-hacking and botting solutions attached to MMOGs such as Blizzards famed solution, dubbed, "The Warden," which constantly monitors player activity to make sure that rule breaking gameplay is not occuring.


  • #1

    It's always good to wake up in the morning and see people complain about having a program that protects your assets. As Arthus has stated, you agreed to installing it so noone truly has any word here other then they agreed. But aside from the fact of the agreement, Warden is a great solution towards events and people like these that may not be flawless, but i still have yet to see anything perfect.

    All i know is that im glad Warden is live, keeps the Speed Hackers and all the other bull**** these no-lifed hacking losers seem to want to bring to the life. Well, most of it.

  • #2

    The following is an outtake from one of our more recent posts. Now, insert the words Professional Sports, Little League, Highway Driving, Home Schooling, Constant Church Attendance, Dating, or whatever comes to mind as far as activities go for Online Gaming.

    Online gaming has presented moral and legal issues since its inception. There are those who play by the rules and those who do not. These issues and the issue of security in onling gaming will present a preview of problems that will emerge in the coming years

    'Nuff Said!

  • #3

    Zeroes, comparing the warden with god is a little scary in my mind. A program run by people that watches your every move is quite different (and has a lot more potential for harm) then the creator viewing his creation (if that's what you believe in).

    While I might not like the ultra intrusiveness of the Warden, I realize it is a ... necessary evil. It is what allows wow to "trust" the user as far as where they are on the world map. Some other games don't have this trust and when there is a lag spike or temporary disconnection you find yourself back in the same position you were in 30 seconds ago being attacked by a mob that wasn't there when you ran by the first time.

    I must also thank blizzard for using the warden and not going the way of FFXI and other such MMOs where you can't alt-tab out to prevent from hacking.

  • #4

    Well having any software on your computer that updates itself is, in my opinion, spy ware. The Warden does this on occasion, though I really think that it's nothing worth worrying over. So long as you aren't dead or dying, who cares about whether someone is watching you? I mean God, for those who choose to believe in him, is always watching, plus our minds are considered to be computers, thus through inference it could be said that when God gave us the breath of life, he was really installing the OS and some spyware (similar to Microsoft), that way he could always be watching.

    LOL, sorry I ramble on.

  • #5

    Not to be an ass, but its Root kits, Great response though.

  • #6

    The Warden monitors activity related to World of Wacraft. From what I have read it attempts to detect lots of different types of rule breaking actions, such as automation, exploitation of the economy, third party cheat software and other things like access from other locations etc. What people have to understand is that the system is not fool proof. You can never have a system that is going to catch everyone doing everything. The Warden is written by Humans so Human error is always going to play a part in any anti-rule breaking solution.

    I have yet to meet anyone who has claimed to be able to write a solution to every single problem faced by MMOs such as World of Warcraft because it is a completely implausible claim to make. For every rule breaking activity you are aware of there are more that you are not aware of and if you are not aware of them how can you counter them?

    It's a similar thing to the way people slander Microsoft for having an opperating system that is suseptable to virus infiltration. Macs are only more secure statistically and those statistics generally don't mention the fact that Microsoft occupies 80% of the OS market so it is logical to assume that people are going to try to write viruses and the like for Windows because of the figures involved just like it's logical to assume that people will target World of Warcraft because of the figures involved.

    <quote>But "The Warden" is still no good option for "securing" the world of warcraft. You have tons of Bots around, goldspammers etc.</quote>

    The "tons" you speak of are a fraction of the total player base. The Warden does a good job with the resources it has access to and you can't expect it to do more. The only other solution that companies are using at this moment in time is Route Kits and Route Kits are far, far worse than The Warden.

  • #7

    But "The Warden" is still no good option for "securing" the world of warcraft. You have tons of Bots around, goldspammers etc. It's not like The Warden is the ultimate solution to make "make sure that rule breaking gameplay is not occuring."

  • #8

    But we do agree to have the Warden installed when we play WoW. It's in that big service agreement that we scroll though when there is a new patch.

    So, if you don't like the Warden, you don't get to play WoW.

  • #9

    Warden=ultimate spyware..gotta love blizz :)

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