Tag hacking

Late Night Rant: Let’s Talk Security

I want to start out with saying that my hacked account story had a happy ending – all my stuff is back and my account has been returned to me. It went fast, I am extremely happy. I won’t be touching the game again until I can get an authenticator though, I don’t want to go through this again. I trust my friends will let me know if something dodgy is going on, but the password is changed and I’ve gone through my own security habits and updated them a lot. You won’t get my stuff again!

Pantless gnome

My character ran around like this for hours, farming elementals for the hacker.

But let’s talk security. When your account is hacked, who is really to blame? This is all a thought experiment, this is not actually blaming anyone for what can happen to your account. Don’t get upset. But I can’t help feeling that the usual defense – “it’s all your own fault, Blizzard/NCsoft/Game Company X had nothing to do with it” – can be a bit, well, weak.

Because frankly, we don’t know. We don’t know what is going on on their side. While I am quite sure that this was all my own fault, somehow, it is hard to not hear warning bells ringing when every sweep of my computer turned up nothing at all. Now, no anti-virus or malware-scanner is infallible. Something might have been missed. It might not even be on my computer, perhaps it’s from a forum or WoW-related site that I used the same e-mail and password for (I just love logging into WoW with my e-mail, btw. Absolutely love it. /sarcasm).

There has been a rise in hackings lately, we certainly saw a huge rise in it around Christmas. There might be all kinds of reasons for this, but I won’t rule out that there might have been a security breach at Blizzard. It’s unlikely, a huge company like that can of course afford the best security money can buy. At the same time, the hackers are getting bolder and bolder, and – worst of all – richer.

Do you seriously believe that they would add an official authenticator to your account if they couldn’t afford to buy one just for that particular hack? They get your username and password, add a $6 authenticator to it to buy themselves enough time to grab as much gold as they can before Blizzard can intervene. That’s $6 dollars off the bottom line that they just have to hope will be worth it in the end (I doubt that my account was worth it, I hardly had any gold worth mentioning and not many emblems for gems), for every account. It’s no longer a quick hack and run. It’s a hack and fortify run.

There’s so much money in World of Warcraft now that these schemes are getting more and more complicated. The hackers constantly come up with new plans to circumvent the security measures that are put in place. Even the authenticators, hailed as a way to end hacking, are being used against the poor sods (like me) that don’t have one. And they will keep doing it, until either someone comes up with a security system that is fail safe, or the market in World of Warcraft gold collapses. And only the players can make that happen.

Because of this, I don’t buy into the whole “it’s always your own fault”-idea. It is probably true, but since we don’t know what actually is going on at Blizzard, I think we should at least be open to the idea. People make mistakes, every security system can potentially be compromised. And the hackers have shown, over and over again, that they are able and willing to do whatever it takes to get hold of your gold. There’s just too much money in it.

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Joins The Hacked Masses, Blames Gold Buyers

It’s not like I really needed more proof that buying gold makes you an asshat, but to drive the point home even further I got hacked today. A friend called me up and asked if I was playing, since I was online, not answering in chat and had emptied our guild’s bank at 7am. Considering that I haven’t logged into World of Warcraft for several days, it was easy to draw the quick conclusion that my account has been compromised.

Now, it would be easy for me to play the blame game and start to point to some form of security fault at Blizzard. It might be, considering the rise of hackings lately. At the same time, hackers might just have found more sneaky ways of getting into our accounts – or simply, the market might be lucrative enough these days that there are just more hackers around now. I’ve really tried to make sense of where I did wrong, uninstalling applications that I’ve downloaded lately, doing a full spyware and virus scan. The virus scan is still running, while the spyware scan turned up nothing.

Victor pointed my to this post at Destructoid, which might give further clues to what happened, while Balsakian mentioned addons. Could be a mix. Could be all of them. Could be neither. I have no idea. I might have clicked a bad link, or an addon is infected, or…I just don’t know. I feel a bit clueless right now.

My virus scan just finished, deep scan on my system and external drive. Nothing found. I’m at a complete loss where to go from here.

Really though, I am not as mad at the hacker him/herself as to the culture that has caused this. They hack accounts to get to the gold, which they can sell. Don’t get me any crap about bad game design and that’s why you buy gold. You’re an idiot who keep fueling money into an industry that is illegal, immoral and has no qualms about hacking into peoples’ accounts.

My gnome is running around in Northrend without pants because of people like you. I love MMOs, I love the culture and the communities. But you, Mr or Mrs Goldbuyer? You’re an asshat. Go cheat in The Sims 3 instead, where you can feel all high and mighty instead of screwing your fellow MMO-players over. The spam, the hackings, they wouldn’t happen if there wasn’t a market. Go QQ somewhere else. You’re scum.

I’ve filed a support ticket, with all the information I could enter, and I hope that Blizzard get back to me soon. I don’t really care that much about my current gear, it wasn’t all that anyway, but I want my old stuff back. My 7/8 pieces of Tier 1, my Onyxia Scale Cloak, the old Onyxia attunement amulet that isn’t available in the game anymore. My Perdition’s Blade, that I still had stashed in a corner of my bank. Those are things I’ve been holding on to for years, because of nostalgia. I will miss them.

Krystalle has written up a good guide on how to spot those fishy mails that you might get. She’s also written down some of her own thoughts about hacking and buying gold. Very good read.

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