Thursday, October 30, 2014

The CSM 9 Summer Summit Minutes: Team Security

The CSM 9 Summer Summit minutues were released yesterday.  All 146 pages of them.  The news sites, bloggers, and podcasters will cover the minutes for days, if not weeks.  But I don't think the coverage will last weeks due to the effect the release of Phoebe is having on the null sec map already.  As usual, I'll comment on the security portion of the minutes.  For some reason, a lot of people want to know what I think.

First, the session was highly redacted.  Then again, I didn't expect anything less, although CCP apparently is showing more trust in the CSM and showing more sensitive information.  CCP is conducting a shadow war against the illicit RMTers who sell ISK and items and the botting, hacking, and exploiting that degrade the game play experience of players.  Here is the segment of the minutes of the subjects that interest me the most:
CCP Bugartist: Security topics within CCP [...] Make sure we will improve the quality of code of every single line of code we produce. The same for processes [...] that’s what we do on a strategic level. Some samples on the following slides [...]. And also technology [...].

CCP Bugartist: More to product and game security [...] Botting, cheating, RMTing [...]. Massive amounts of data [...], data analytics [...].

CCP Bugartist: When there is a mass theft of credit cards [...] We improved [...]. So there is a lot of stuff we are working on to make accounts more secure, I will show some details [...] And there is the housekeeping we are working on [...] You will see some numbers later which are [...] Any questions? Okay, let’s talk about EVE Online universe account security. Overall [...] We also really want to have better account security, which is for example [...]

Corbexx: What about authentication keys?

CCP Bugartist: You’re talking about multifactor authentication, in the second phase [...] So we have multiple options [...] All of this will be totally opt in [...] Any questions regarding account security?

Sion Kumitomo: Having an option for multifactor authentication would be fabulous and awesome.

CCP Bugartist: Multifactor will definitely help to reduce the amount of hacked accounts. One thing for example [...] The user should control how they log into the game. So that’s why we would like the user to select how they log in, it should be an option you can choose. Of course it might change the prioritization of [...]

CCP Peligro: The guy who hacks your account is usually involved in RMT, so that’s something we want to catch too.

Multi-factor authentication is probably an area I need to explore more in-depth on the blog.  Of course, I had a bad experience with Wildstar, which chose to add the option after early access launched.  But if CCP does add in multi-factor authentication, I suggest everyone immediately use it as soon as the feature is released.  I painfully discovered that hackers will put their own authentication on the account if possible in order to lock the owner of the account out.  Then again, I do use Google Authenticator, so I'm not a skeptic, just wary of how a company implements the feature on a long running service like an MMORPG.

The big issue, or at least the one that has the most in the minutes, was ISBoxer.  Here is the section where CCP Peligro gave an overview of ISBoxer:

CCP Peligro: This is more or less CCP’s stance on multiboxing, if you filed a ticket asking if you can multibox, in a nutshell it says that CCP will never sanction or authorize use of a third party program because we don’t have control over the feature set. That’s why there might be some confusion because there is a sort of grey area. We will action on it if […] This is the stance outlined on the third party policy page on our website. So this is the amount of accounts we have flagged […] ISboxers will frequently contact us because it is a grey area […] We have stats on what ISboxers are doing […] but there’s no standard ISboxer. Peligro's edit: Refer to http://community.eveonline.com/support/policies/third-party-policies/
The interesting part of this entry is that CCP is keeping track of the use of ISBoxer.  I'd love to get my hands on the numbers, as I've wondered about the effects of the software for some time.

The four members of the CSM who spoke out about the use of ISBoxer were Xander Phoena, Ali Aras, Mike Azariah, and Sugar Kyle.  Xander's concerns were based on whether ISBoxer violated the EULA and trying to clarify the matter once and for all.  Ali concentrated on the use for stealth bombing and input duplication.  Mike concentrated on the effects on incursion running and the wording of the EULA.  And Sugar Kyle focused not only on the perception that CCP is not enforcing its own rules, but wondered if CCP had the capability of enforcing those rules.  Xander may have spelled out the main problem with the use of ISBoxer:
Xander Phoena: The problem is that if I lose my Vindicator to ten guys then fair enough they trained for it and deserve it, but if I lose it to one guy flying ten ships perfectly than I haven’t made nearly the same level of mistake and it required infinitely less skill on their part. There’s a perception that I’ve been cheated out of my Vindicator.
That perception is bad for EVE, recruiting new players, and retaining existing ones.

I found another segment by CCP Peligro interesting:
CCP Peligro: Yes, but the blanket OK is something that I doubt we'll do. We don't have any control of third-party programs and it would be irresponsible of us to sanction use of something we didn't make. There are also concerns with regards to liability. The software is used for all kinds of nefarious things, not just multi-boxing. We’re banning RMT’s and botters because that’s more detrimental to the game world. Client Modification is another big thing, and ISBoxer in particular is a powerful framework for this purpose.
Team Security is prioritizing its work based on the impact on New Eden, and ISBoxer is not as damaging as RMTers and botters.  However, I'm glad to see that I'm not that far off when stating that ISBoxer is considered client modification.

The one takaway from the minutes I have concerning ISBoxer is that Team Security is tracking the usage of the multi-boxing software.  I know that Team Security is a small team and I want to see them using their resources in the most effective manner.  If I have a choice of having multi-factor authentication or banning ISBoxer, I'd rather have multi-factor authentication.

Those are some quick thoughts on the minutes.  Getting any information on the shadow war between Team Security and the illicit RMTers and their allies is always difficult.  I could have wished for more information, but that's not really realistic.

5 comments:

  1. It is necessary to keep an eye on ISBoxer, because it has the potential to have a significant effect on New Eden.

    I doubt the resource drain to track it is significant - it is probably automated.

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  2. What I found interesting is CCP Peligros answer:
    "Stealth bombing lends itself to ISboxing pretty well, and is popular amongst suicide gankers too. ISboxers die a lot, they aren’t elite pvpers."
    Suicide gankers die a lot.
    A voice inside my head shouted: "You don't say!?"
    I went back to the killboards, checking those ISBoxers I know... Replicator, Wrong Target Sorry,... somehow they manage to show 99+% Kill/Loss efficiency.
    If I use an input broadcasting software to command 20 Catalysts and I suicide gank a Fenrir - of course I will die 20 times while my victim only dies once. Proof made, input broadcasting doesn't give you any advantage but you'll die a lot using it. o_O
    At least you'll die more often than those you are engaging.
    It seems to be unimportant that the input broadcaster lost 200m ISK while his victim lost 1.3b ISK + cargo. Most likely this suicide ganker will make a profit or wouldn't engage at all.

    If an alliance loses 200 battleships while killing 5 enemy titans, would Peligros say: "The enemy team only died 5 times, they win and are elite pvp'ers while the others sucked hard losing 200 ships."

    He might be an expert in finding bots and RMT and stuff... but now I'm unsure if he played EvE at all?

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  3. The resource drain won't come from tracking it so much as from actually banning people. Then you have to handle an increase of people petitioning to have people banned, people fighting the bans, etc.

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  4. I find it odd that EVE doesn't have some multifactor authentication option. When you look at the API access to your character, it always seemed to be far, far ahead of every other game in terms of integration between the game and external systems. Just seems like they would have been one of the first to implement authenticators.

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  5. I hear that account sharing is a thing. A big thing, according to some, esp for supercaps. Account sharing is against the EULA, but those same "some people" say that enforcement is way down on CCP's priority list. Multi-factor Authentication could result in account sharing being less of a thing. There are probably ways to get around it, but if done at all they should do it correctly - so that getting around it is not easy - or not bother at all.

    The other side of the coin is if (tinfoil hat mode on) CCP actually condones account sharing and willfully turns a blind eye to it because of :revenue:, then they will never implement Multi-factor Authentication because it would be too good at stopping it.

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