Hacking WoW and the pursuit of knowledge

The Warden vs. The Governor


It's okay to cheat

WoW hacking has other similarities to the non-game software security struggles, including the cat-and-mouse game played between those enforcing the rules and those trying to flout them. After growing wise to the bot scripts, Blizzard Entertainment, the provider of WoW, started sending agents into the game to query suspiciously drone-like characters with instant messages asking, in effect, "Hey, are you real?" So a hacker responded by modifying his bot so it forwarded all IMs by SMS to the hacker's cell phone, McGraw said.

McGraw's book, which is slated to hit book shelves next month and was co-written by Greg Hoglund, promises to contain plenty of hands-on demonstrations of how to hack MMORPGs. But his talk also spent considerable time discussing the ethics of the practice. His thesis: With a few exceptions - packet sniffers, denial of service attacks on opponents and the like - it's all perfectly OK.

For one thing, there are no laws that prohibit cheating in WoW and other games, and the end user license agreements (EULAs) are so chock full of ridiculous provisions that their ability to be held up in court are open to genuine debate.

"A lot of people think you can get in trouble for breaking EULAs," McGraw said. "It turns out EULA writers can get in trouble for asking improper things."

One of the legally specious requirements enforced by Blizzard is user permission to have software run on the player's machine that monitors instant messenger activity, open programs and other computer functions and reports them back to the company. The software, which Blizzard dubs The Warden, probably violates an anti-spyware statute in California, McGraw said.

So McGraw and Hoglund have responded with their own piece of software, which they call The Governor. It closely monitors The Warden and curtails activities the authors deem invasive.

Given there is no legitimate reason to argue against hacking MMORPGs, McGraw concluded, it would be irresponsible not to research how their rules can be circumvented. These games, after all, spawn real economies with gross domestic products that can rival many industrialized nations. What's more, the market for virtual assets such as land in Second Life or gold in WoW is large now and expected to mushroom to as high as $7bn in the next two years, according to IGE, a broker of MMORPG currency and assets.

Said McGraw: "Should we talk about breaking (MMORPG) systems? Absolutely we should, because otherwise we won't know how to build systems that don't suck." ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Google Pixel 6, 6 Pro Android 12 smartphone launch marred by shopping cart crashes

    Chocolate Factory talks up Tensor mobile SoC, Titan M2 security ... for those who can get them

    Google held a virtual event on Tuesday to introduce its latest Android phones, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, which are based on a Google-designed Tensor system-on-a-chip (SoC).

    "We're getting the most out of leading edge hardware and software, and AI," said Rick Osterloh, SVP of devices and services at Google. "The brains of our new Pixel lineup is Google Tensor, a mobile system on a chip that we designed specifically around our ambient computing vision and Google's work in AI."

    This latest Tensor SoC has dual Arm Cortex-X1 CPU cores running at 2.8GHz to handle application threads that need a lot of oomph, two Cortex-A76 cores at 2.25GHz for more modest workloads, and four 1.8GHz workhorse Cortex-A55 cores for lighter, less-energy-intensive tasks.

    Continue reading
  • BlackMatter ransomware gang will target agriculture for its next harvest – Uncle Sam

    What was that about hackable tractors?

    The US CISA cybersecurity agency has warned that the Darkside ransomware gang, aka BlackMatter, has been targeting American food and agriculture businesses – and urges security pros to be on the lookout for indicators of compromise.

    Well known in Western infosec circles for causing the shutdown of the US Colonial Pipeline, Darkside's apparent rebranding as BlackMatter after promising to go away for good in the wake of the pipeline hack hasn't slowed their criminal extortion down at all.

    "Ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure entities could directly affect consumer access to critical infrastructure services; therefore, CISA, the FBI, and NSA urge all organizations, including critical infrastructure organizations, to implement the recommendations listed in the Mitigations section of this joint advisory," said the agencies in an alert published on the CISA website.

    Continue reading
  • It's heeere: Node.js 17 is out – but not for production use, says dev team

    EcmaScript 6 modules will not stop growing use of Node, claims chair of Technical Steering Committee

    Node.js 17 is out, loaded with OpenSSL 3 and other new features, but it is not intended for use in production – and the promotion for Node.js 16 to an LTS release, expected soon, may be more important to most developers.

    The release cycle is based on six-monthly major versions, with only the even numbers becoming LTS (long term support) editions. The rule is that a new even-numbered release becomes LTS six months later. All releases get six months of support. This means that Node.js 17 is primarily for testing and experimentation, but also that Node.js 16 (released in April) is about to become LTS. New features in 16 included version 9.0 of the V8 JavaScript engine and prebuilt Apple silicon binaries.

    "We put together the LTS release process almost five years ago, it works quite well in that we're balancing [the fact] that some people want the latest, others prefer to have things be stable… when we go LTS," Red Hat's Michael Dawson, chair of the Node.js Technical Steering Committee, told The Register.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021