World of Warcraft spykit gets encrypted
Increases effective stealth level by 5
Tuesday's patch to World of Warcraft introduced new content and tweaks to the land of Azeroth, but with it came an important change to The Warden, Blizzard's ill-famed tool against cheaters.
According to Warden-watching modders, the latest version is now encrypted, adding a major barrier for tinfoil hats who track what information the application sends home to Blizzard.
The Warden's function as an anti-hacking sentry was already cause for concern for some privacy advocates. From the moment players log into the game, The Warden checks open window names, process names, memory modifications, DDL names and other pieces of data in the background. The goal is to determine if the user has a specific hack or program loaded and sends back a "yes" or "no" answer to Blizzard.
At any given time, there is one version of The Warden active in a set of WoW servers. But Blizzard fights would-be countermeasures against The Warden by switching between hundreds of different copies of The Warden with the same functionality, but containing slight modifications in the code.
This technique of polymorphic code is more commonly applied in computer viruses and worms as a way to avoid detection from anti-virus and intrusion detection software. According to The WardenNet, a website dedicated to tracking the iterations of the application, there are about 320 copies of The Warden in circulation.
There are some legitimate arguments for the intrusion of privacy. Massive Multiplayer economies such as WoW can be ravaged by gold-farming bots or hacks. It's Blizzard's responsibility to not only protect the game experience, but their intellectual property and marketability of the game. And nothing, after all, is forcing anyone to play if they disagree with the policy.
Blizzard maintains that The Warden does not gather any personally identifiable information about the player. They claim only information about the account is sent back. Third-party applications such as The Governor and ISXWarden could previously monitor The Warden and curtail activities the authors deem invasive.
But with Blizzard now utilizing a different random cryptographic hash function in every copy of The Warden, customers lose that potential safeguard. On one hand, most customers have already put a large amount of trust in the company by giving Blizzard their credit card to pay the monthly fee. On the other, this could theoretically give Blizzard access to other pieces of private information without customer knowledge.
Such a scenario may be a stretch, but the change is indicative of the leaps of faith some companies are asking (and too often not asking) their customers to make in order to protect their software.
As of this publication, Blizzard has not returned requests for comment. ®
Your missing the point...
Read this blog:
He's probably the foremost non-Blizzard authority on Warden. The point is not whether or not Blizzard should be able to protect their software. Of course they should protect it.
What has changed is that it is no longer possible to tell what they are doing (not just scanning -- but doing period) because they are now using some advanced encryption techniques to muddy the waters.
Previously, it was possible to reverse engineer Warden and determine what it was and wasn't doing. Yes -- this was being used to then thwart the behavior -- but it was also able to act as a check - and - balance to ensure they weren't making privacy violations or deploying malicious code. NOW -- they have effectively made this impossible. Ironically, they haven't made it impossible to cheat, only to tell what they are doing with Warden.
If a future or current Blizzard employee decides to use this maliciously, no one would be the wiser. That's the scary part.
just like in real life.
if you are playing WOW expect to be cheated on. happens all the time in real life.
i dont know Wow ar any other online game but would'nt it be simpler to put 10 WOW playing friends in a room. and have these 10 together ambush whoever passes by. and grab all they can Far more efficient and no Warden would be able to stop that. but then again .. most of these WOW players probably don't have 10 friends ( unless you read that '10' as a binary number .. )
To Lou Gosselin and the other whiners...
It always makes me laugh when people start talking about how thier rights have been taken away by a service they choose to pay for.
Can't smoke in a restauraunt? They're taking my rights away! Can't bring your own food into a movie theater? They're taking my rights away! Can't block spyware on a piece of software you've subscribed to? They're taking my rights away!
Please. If you don't like the service as offered, stay the hell out of restaurants, movie theaters and Azaroth.