Thursday, June 2, 2011

CCP's War On Bots: Does The Source Code Leak Tell Us Anything?

Sometimes I think I should write a comprehensive article (or series of articles) on the shadowy war CCP is engaged in with botters and illicit RMT shops.  I see a lot of people on the Internet take isolated incidents and fail to see the connections.  Take, for example, the latest scandal surrounding the release of the Eve Online source code.

Apparently someone has decompiled the Eve Online client codeAgain.  Eve News 24 is covering the story, and I really can't fault riverini's take on the matter.  As much as EN24 publishes propaganda in the on-going wars in null sec, riverini has done an outstanding job covering the story of RMT and botting in New Eden for many months now.  His write-up on the motives of the people presenting him stories is very useful when attempting to weight the reliability of the information.

I'm also going to look at the article that the hacker was pushing riverini to publish and what it may, or may not, mean in CCP's War On Bots.  I'm going to focus on the two "fun facts" since I think those are the ones I can write about reasonably intelligently.  I'll start in reverse order.

"Fun Fact #2: CCP records *every* move you make in eve online. Everything. We see it right here in source code. Next time you get the infamous logs show nothing response from CCP -  sleep well capsuleers we know for sure your are getting shafted."

Let me analyze this statement from the perspective of someone who spends a lot of time analyzing server-side application logs.  I personally believe that such logging code IS in the source code.  Such code would be useful for debugging purposes when the code is deployed on the Singularity test server and for local testing inside the Eve Online offices.  Everyone remembers Tuxford, right? 

But having that much detail of logging can be counter-productive, if for no other reason that the space involved in storing that level of detail for any length of time is enormous.  But sometimes, like analyzing huge fleet fights, having that level of logging would be very useful.  I think what CCP probably does is regulate the granularity of the logging someplace in the registry on their servers.  For most places most of the time, I believe everything is not logged.  But on special occasions, I assume the registry can be tweaked and a flood of information is then available.

How does that affect the War On Bots™?  Well, it means that unless CCP gets reports of bots hanging around a system on a set schedule, they probably don't have detailed logs.  So if the hinted at "report bot" function comes around, increasing logging levels in those systems may become automated.  That is the only way I see this affecting the war, because the last 2+ months has shown that CCP has developed other means of fighting the bots.  Or at least the mining bots.  Perhaps they need other methods of fighting ratting and courier bots.

"Fun Fact #1: CCP has telnet client/server built into client source code which ships with eve-online. Yes this means they can/could remotely execute commands on your computer."

Remember what I wrote about leaving testing code in place above?  I assume the same is true for the telnet code.  And yes, I am assuming that there is telnet code in the source code.  I think there almost has to be in order for the Thin Client testing CCP conducts to work, considering the thin clients don't have graphics cards.

But can CCP use telnet to send commands to your computer?  From what I've read on the botting forums, some bot users believe CCP is doing something to them.  I don't know if a CCP employee would need to use telnet to do so, but it would explain all the reports of minimizing windows botters are suffering.  And it is that phenomenon that I believe CCP is using to confirm bot use.  Once the windows minimize on an OCR bot, it starts doing stupid things and reveals itself to be a pretty dumb artificial intelligence.

I know I have not written about how having the source code can make a bot writer's life easier.  In truth, I'm a log monkey who can script things to automate the process. I can talk about the relationship between logs and debugging and how programmers do certain things.  Writing botting programs is a little above my knowledge level, so I'll have to defer to experts you can find elsewhere on the interwebs.

So what does the latest revelation really mean to the War On Bots™?  Truthfully, not much.  CCP has to know that as long they continue to use Python that the ability exists for hackers to break down their source code.  The look into the code also potentially fills in some of the blanks on how CCP is doing some of the things they are doing to botters.  The only thing the revelation may do is give Eve Online bad press and keep people from playing the game.

Well, I guess that is one way to keep people from botting.

Related Post:  An Eve Online Bot Developer On How To Combat Bots

No comments:

Post a Comment