Past Rants, Raves & Views

Security in online gaming

With a recent spate of hacked accounts being emptied of valuable loot in the MMO World of Warcraft, how have companies ramped up the security of their login servers as well as the methods of authentication to stop the disease of hackers spreading?

Account security is something that is fairly close to my heart. Being an avid World of Warcraft player, my account is pretty much sacred and with two of my friends having been hacked within days of each other over the summer, when Blizzard announced that they would be merging game accounts with their Battle.net website, I was apprehensive.

And I was right to – another friend of mine lost access to his account the week after he merged.

We soon found out that it was not an isolated incident, with blogs on a particularly popular website dedicating posts to how security between the mergers must have been so bad, what with all the account hacking going on.

Increasing attempts to hijack other people’s accounts means that game companies must be vigilant in their methods to keep hold of loyal clients.

MMO game accounts are by far the most preyed upon of all online game accounts, with people looking for an underhand way of attaining items or various other achievements. Blizzard have

upped their security by implementing a Blizzard Authenticator system, where players can request an optional security feature in the form of a small device that can be attached to a keyring. Upon login, players are asked to input a code that is randomly generated every time by the attached Authenticator, thus adding another layer of safety.

A particular feature I like is the one that Runes of Magic utilises. On the login page, a floating keyboard is present in order for players to simply click their password in, bypassing the keyboard if players wish to and therefore foiling attempts to keylog their password. It’s a very simple yet devilishly clever method of countering the most common method of hijacking accounts.

I hope other games companies take note of various methods that the odd handful use to prevent account loss – otherwise the playerbase that they rely on so much may begin to dwindle, much like people taking out their money out of a bank whose shares are falling.

Paul Park