Valve recently released info about 40,000 Dota 2 accounts that have been permanently banned. Their tactics in catching cheaters were not novel but were quite ingenious for a game developer.
Other developers should take note.
Ingenious honeypot trap from Valve
Accounts were caught red-handed using third-party Dota cheat software, but it was how Valve derived their plan that makes this a big story. Alongside the announcement on the ban wave, Valve also added that they set up a honeypot trap to catch players using the exploit.
Valve’s developers intentionally left data that shouldn’t be visible during gameplay open to exploits. This “exclusive” and advantageous information is only readable via these exploits, hence a honeypot was set.
Obviously, Valve used this to confidently identify everyone that used the exploit from the active Dota playerbase, and gave them the little ban hammer(-ing).
It was also made public that this particular exploit has found usage in various forms of cheats in the market. Which is why the ban numbers are overwhelmingly large. Yet, this is apparently just the tip of the iceberg for Valve’s anti-cheats campaign to hunt down malicious users in the Dota 2 playerbase.
Read also: CSGO Hacks: How to catch cheaters
Setting an Example
More often than not, the battle against cheating in games is a silent battle, regardless of genre. However, Valve took this opportunity to showcase its commitment to shutting down cheaters, who are ruining the player experience for others unfairly.
After all, the latest honeypot trap will cause anxiety among cheaters and cheat developers alike. If an exploit is now identified, a question is posed..
- Was the exploit left there to be found, or was it ingeniously found?
- Is this cheat legit or is Valve just making cheats to catch cheaters in bulk?
For the uninitiated, running applications that read exclusive data from the Dota client can lead to a permanent ban. Of course, Valve will even ban pro players who cheat, from all Valve competitive events as a more severe punishment.
For the cheats developers, hopefully, this power play from Valve would cripple their heinous operations and deter potential customers.
Other developers should take note
Honeypot mechanisms are used by hackers and white hats alike, and its cool that cheat makers got a taste of their medicine.
But, why is this an exceptional tactic that is news worthy and not an industry standard. Plenty of developers boast their Vanguard and BattleEye and VACs softwares for catching cheaters; Yet, not many of them have set up a good honeypot to catch all these cheats accessing specific data that shouldn’t naturally be accessed.
Maybe it’s time all developers consistently create false flag exploits to a point where cheat developers are not certain what is real and what isn’t anymore. Let anxiety do the rest.