Tuesday, December 11, 2018

CCP's War On Bots And Illicit RMT: Bot Bans, Gicodel, And Illinfrik

Over the past week or so I've engaged in a lot of different activities EVE Online. Mining in low sec belts. Running mining and distribution missions in low sec. Standings repair via the Sisters of EVE epic arc. But the EVE activity I engaged in that most people are interested in involved either sitting in stations or sitting on the undock in high sec. So here are my latest observations on CCP's War on Botting and Illicit RMT™.

The first bit of news came from the EVE Online sub-reddit, in the form of a post from CCP Peligro on 6 December.
Hi all!

Quick numbers - 1250 permanent bot bans in the past 2 weeks, versus 28 temporary 3 day bans (these are actual players I wanted to give a second chance). Hopefully this tells you that we are not giving most people two chances. Might not want to risk it.

The 1250 permanent bans are largely RMT bots, and you can expect these guys to return. This is because people are willing to pay them money for their dirty stuff.

I have zero tolerance for botting and if I catch you using alpha accounts to bot, it's going to be permanent across the board.

Needless to say CCP has a zero tolerance policy on RMT, and to that end there have been 350 permanent RMT bans in the past two weeks, no temporary bans.

Specifically talking about the FW Atron bots - those were from some RMT organization, running in virtual machines on various servers. They were on average 2-3 months old, and I recognize them as the same group of FW bots I banned around September this year.

Simply put these guys are persistent and as long as people are lining up to buy goods from them, they will continue to try. I can only ask that you please don't do business with RMT groups.

I've already been told that they are back on new accounts. This work is never ending but I absolutely agree that CCP needs to do more and do it better.

I see the current situation as unacceptable, and I will do everything in my power to make New Eden better for all of our lovely legitimate customers. This means more resources, better tools, faster turnaround and more feedback for our players.

I need to create the queries to measure this, but I can tell you that the bot reports really work. Hopefully in the future we can give you guys feedback on when we take action on your reports, which I hope will ease the current sentiment that CCP does not care.

Please please please keep using the in-game report a bot button as detailed here: https://support.eveonline.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000249125-Reporting-suspected-bot-users

Your humble button presser,

CCP Peligro

While tears from the bot forums are not only rare but tend towards the technical side, I did manage to capture some complaints from ISK, PLEX, and skill injector buyers during November.

Complaints from customers of 4 ISK sellers
After the bot bans in Illinfrik occurred on the 4th, I decided to look for another bot farm. I knew the Sisters of EVE have one level 4 distribution agent in high sec, so I took a trip to Gicodel to watch the traffic going into and out of the Sisters of EVE Bureau above Gicodel VII, Moon 14. Sure enough, I found bots. Lots of bots.

6 Badger bots and a Mammoth bot
After an hour or so, I had identified two groups of bots. The larger group, consisting of 39 pilots, flew Badgers. A smaller group of 5 Mammoths also steadily left and re-entered the station. The larger group had all but one character created on either 24 November or 26 November. A very interesting fact connected all of the characters together. On 4 December, all 39 characters left their NPC corps and created personal, one-character corps named after themselves. For example, a character named Sotken Onzo created a corp named Sotken Onzo Corporation. Two or three characters doing so is possibly a coincidence. Thirty-nine characters doing so within a 10 minute span is a pattern.

A little later on, a Dominix piloted by puchiko123 warped onto grid, deployed drones, and took up a station near the undock. A Badger emerged and puchiko123 did not take long to dispatch the bot. In real life, I work from home on Fridays, so I decided Friday morning to log in and see if the bot traffic had lessened any. When I undocked, I saw puchiko123 waiting on the undock again. His prey, Parmala Otsito, managed to warp off and escape. But Parmala came back in his Badger, and puchiko123 finished the job. In my mind, bot confirmed.

Death of a bot
The path to Gicodel runs through two adjacent systems in The Forge, Vattuolen and Akkilen. Vattuolen is home to a level 1 distribution mission, which is required to get to standings of 1, which then means the bots can then move to Akkilen. Because of the staggered creation dates, the times are not exact, but it appears the bot farm started operations in Vattuolen shortly after downtime on 24 November, moved to Akkilen after downtime on 26 November, and moved en masse to Gicodel on 28 November.

Level 1 SoE distribution bots. Source: Dotlan

Level 2 SoE distribution bots. Source: Dotlan

Level 4 SoE distribution bots. Source: Dotlan

EDIT - 18 December 2018: Upon further review, the traffic seen in Akkilen was probably related to bots switching to a level 2 SoE distribution agent based in Vattuolen.

The way that The Sweepers and puchiko123 apparently became involved is an interesting story. The Sweepers' is a 3-month old corp that, according to it's war history, primarily wardecs industrial corps and kills off POS in high sec. But then something happened a little over two weeks ago. The Sweepers doubled in size on 24 November with the addition of 11 new pilots. Four days later, The Sweepers were wardec'd by a one-man corp, aheeri Shaishi. After declaring war, aheeri Shaishi added a two-day old character, benda pengda. I suspect the pilot was a ringer, because in benda's first 10 minutes in corp, he had killed 5 Mammoths and a pod in the system of Akkilen. Three days later, benda was in Goonswarm Federation.

The Sweepers vs aheeri Shaishi war. Source: zkillboard
I tried to contact The Sweepers' CEO to ask about the events in Akkilen, but received no reply. But given that Akkilen is the middle step to getting to level 4 Sisters of EVE distribution missions, I suspect the 5 Mammoth pilots were botting during a wardec. D'oh! Within 3 1/2 hours of losing their ships, Gakk Codolle, hfgas Arnolles, fghsd Chieve, sccz Yotosala, and sdfcvx Asques were no longer members of The Sweepers. I highly suspect they were kicked from the corporation.

I found the quintet in Gicodel, shortly after they had all formed their own personal, one-man corporations between 2:24-2:28 on 6 December. Two days later, The Sweepers wardec'd their old corpmate Gakk Codolle, resulting in all five pilots closing their corporations and returning to NPC corps.

I had to rewrite the end of this post due to developments throughout the day Monday. First, CCP Peligro sent out a tweet that hopefully lives up to the promise.

Next, I had to check on the situation in both Gicodel and Illinfrik. Gicodel because the activity in Everyshore had gone under the radar. Illinfrik needed a review because the bots had returned after a 3-day break.

Level 4 Thukker distribution bots. Source: Dotlan

Level 4 SoE distribution bots. Source: Dotlan
I am not 100% sure, but the bot farm operating in Illinfrik never started up after downtown yesterday, indicating the bots were banned during downtime. In Gicodel, the bots started to ramp up after downtime, but then slowly went off line.

No matter how much I write about botting and illicit RMT in EVE Online and CCP's efforts to combat the practice, I know the refrain will continue that CCP never does anything about botting in EVE. As CCP Peligro pointed out in his Reddit post, as long as players buy ISK, skill points, and items off the black market, botters and hackers will continue trying to make real world money from selling digital items. However, I look forward to see what a Unholy Rage 2.0 looks like.

No comments:

Post a Comment