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Business - Written by on Monday, March 24, 2008 9:28 - 1 Comment

World of Warcraft is watching you

In order to combat automated robots and other forms of cheating, World of Warcraft comes bundled with a rootkit (which has since been named Warden) that monitors your computer for signs of “suspicious” activity contrary to their EULA (End User License Agreement).Greg Hoglund first identified Warden in October 2005, a rootkit installed by World of Warcraft that monitors your machine every 15 seconds to identify programs that are attempting to hack or interfere with the operation of WoW that would be against the EULA (bots, unauthorized interface hacks, etc). The rootkit acts similar to spyware, and according to Hoglund:

“Besides Monitoring the WoW process space and keeping track of DLLs running in that space, the Warden pokes around into other processes, doing things like reading the window text in the title bar of every window and doing a scan of the code loaded for every process running on your computer (which it then compares against known cheat code).”

Some have compared the installation of Warden to Sony’s better known rootkit installation scandal for CDs. Warden is also growing in sophistication, and raising new concerns – initially it was available in up to 318 different permutations (to avoid detection), but its polymorphic code permit even higher numbers of variants which make it difficult to circumvent… which also makes it tougher to know exactly what the code is doing. Now others have responded by writing something called “Governor” which apparently “watches” the activity of Warden… things are getting complicated.

Now, I can’t fault Blizzard from wanting to prevent in-game cheating – certainly the the attacks against games like World of Warcraft are growing in sophistication, but Warden takes this technology arms race to an entirely new level. These hacks, and the attempts to curtail them are both extremely innovative – a result of the new security issues that many massively distributed systems have to contend with. Hopefully that innovation won’t be limited to just security features alone, and will also show up in future expansions to the game too.

WoW logo

1 Comment

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Dulce M. Keeling
Apr 15, 2009 7:31

Hey man nice post, I’ve added you to my RSS reader :) I have a blog about making world of warcraft gold, you can check it out if you want :)

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