Monday, November 10, 2008

Don’t let the bad guys win

Today I’m writing a sad post.

Originally I had planned to publish a silly little post about why I hesitate every time I have to kill a yellow mob, being a bit of a pacifist. That post will have to wait a few days. Something came up that made it feel pretty irrelevant, something that upset me so much that I couldn’t possibly write about anything else. I had to get it off my heart.

The account of one of the officers, main tanks and sometimes RL in my guild was hacked yesterday. The guild bank was emptied instantly, of course. The thief didn’t only steal tons of HoDs, gems, recipes, consumables and gold. He took every tine little piece, including bandages. But the robbing of guild bank isn’t what bothers me – after all I know Blizzard will give us at least the items back.

What makes me so upset is that this guy didn’t only manage to hack the account of this skilled, highly respected and in every possible way awesome player. He hasn’t just stolen every piece of item from a bunch of characters, played since the start of the game and equipped accordingly. What is much worse is that he hacked himself into the heart of this player, killing his desire to play the game anymore.

Our officer wrote a heartbreaking farewell post on our guild forums, where he wished the guild good luck on our further adventures in WotLK, declaring that he won’t be a part of it.

“Yes Blizzard would be able to recover some bits and bobs, but they won't be able to get back the collection of items I've had since the game began. Worse then that it feels like you've had your own house robbed. Having been through that as well, all I can say is that the only thing you want to do is move out to somewhere that feels more secure and hasn't been invaded.”

I can totally understand his reaction and I sympathize with him deeply. I’ve never been robbed myself either in real life or in the game, but probably I’d say the same. Being hacked is to be invaded, abused. The feeling that someone has been walking around pretending to be you… it must be awful and take a long time to get over, if you ever can. Still I can’t stop hoping that his claiming that he’ll leave the game is written in a state of chock and that he’ll reconsider it.

If he sticks to his decision and leaves, it’s a way of giving up. I see a glimpse of a dark future of the game, like a Mad Max movie, where Earth is ruled by evil biker gangs. Is that what will happen? Will all the decent players leave and only gold sellers and hackers will be left to boil in their own stew?

I don’t want to see that future. I still carry my dream about this fantasy world where we grow friendships and have fun together. And I sincerely hope that my hacked officer will be a part of it.

Don’t let the bad guys win.


Funeral said...

That's horrible. We went through the same sort of thing in on my old server. They hacked a members account, drained our bank of everything. What made it worse is that the same account had a character in another big guild on the server and drained their bank too. This lead to the other guild saying that this guy actually did it, which caused server drama between our groups and eventually lead to both guilds disbanding.

Horrible stuff. Hopefully your friend won't quit totally and he'll be able to rebuild with the help of Blizzard.

David said...

This guy must've been really attached to his bank and bag contents. I love this game too much to just give up, I would dust myself off and take some comfort in the fact that the Lich King gear reset is on its way to replace any items that were lost, and get back to playing.

But, I haven't raided seriously in almost 2 years now. I now know only secondhand about the amount of effort and time people put into optimizing their gear and preparing for end-game encounters. That's a lot of energy and time put into a character, which builds up memories and an attachment. In the end, though, its just gear to me - the character, even naked with nary a copper in their bank, is still mine with all the memories that go with it. Thankfully, hackers can't get into my head or heart (yet!)

On a separate note, now achievements are nice because they can't be hacked or looted or sold, and they serve as a lasting reminder of your exploits in game. Your friend might reconsider after browsing that screen and seeing that all his accomplishments are there in-game, if not reflected in his inventory.

WTFspaghetti said...

The saddest part about it is that you can't blame him for quitting you know? I would feel the same way...nasty used feeling.

There is nothing wrong with taking a month or two off to clear your mind of WoW. Then come back and experience all that is fun about the game.

Hopefully he will quit WoW because of this and only take a break.

I like to think of WoW as nicotine. No matter how many times you still find yourself with the urge.

Gevlon said...

I'll be more heartless than I use to, but I want to make my opinion very clear, even if it will cost some visitors to never-ever come to my blog ( again.

I think this guy is weak. The robber took only items from him, no one can rob feelings or identity or "safety". These things can only be lost by the person himself. Maybe he blames the robber, but losing these are his own fault an no one else's.

Blizzard return BoP, quest and vanity items, gold and materials are lost. So if my account would be hacked I'd permanently lose more than most of you (50K + stuff of worth about 20K). So what? I'd farm seed money on the first day and would return to business in a week. Reaching 70K wouldn't happen in a week, but would only be a matter of time.

I was not robbed in real life by a burglar, but I did left my parent's house with two bags of stuff after a series of drama. I had no home, no money, and my job was about to end in 2 months. Now I have a home, have money and have job, because I did not whine, did not wrote "heartbreaking farewells", but went farming.

Bad things WILL happen with all of us. We will lose lot of money (global financial crisis anyone?), we will have friends and family die, 66% of marriages will end with divorce. If people sink into self-pity and apathy, their situation will go from bad to terrible.

So please don't advocate loser behavior as "understandable" or "human" because more will follow it in game and RL. Make it clear (to him and to all) that if he chooses to stand up, you support him, but if he chooses to whine, you are better off without him.

Anonymous said...

It has been happenign more and more in our guild and also on the sever, i think in the last year there has been about 10 people hacked from my guild :-( its really sad when it happens.

Anonymous said...

Just yesterday one of my best real live friends phoned me to give the same notice.

He , after a week thinking about it, will stay in the game after all, but we had a sad conversation remenbering old stuff he will not have stored any more (
I supose Gevlon would say, "Great! Free bank slots!" ;-) )

Help him, thankfully in wow world oportunities to resurge are plentier than in RL , and with the lich out there it is not the worst moment to work a new begin.

I´m going to buy authenticator right today.

Anonymous said...

@Funeral: That sounds even worse. You read about those things often but it doesn't get real until you get really close to it.

@David: yeah I think he was. I don't know him so well, but he calls himself an "achievement junkie". I think he's into collecting stuff in a way that I'll never be. I don't chase for achievement and today I even deleted some Tier 4 stuff to get better place in my bags when the expansion comes... But that's me.

@Dr Wang: oh yes... I would find it very hard to quit myself. I've heard that being hacked is actually one of the things that can make people who want to leave, but don't have the willpower, to actually quit.

@Gevlon: no, of course we don't hate you! From one point of view you ARE right, both about game and real life (thank you for sharing the story, which is inspiring and thoughtworthy). Becoming a goblin is a good survival strategy, no doubt.

At the same time... as I said I want to leave in the fantasy world where you don't need to cover yourself in that hard skin. Where you don't get hardened and cynical by circumstances. Where you can trust people without even thinking about it, because everyone would be trustworthy, there wouldn't be anything else. Call me a dreamer. I am.

@Esdras: yes, it seems to be common, though I must say this is about the first time it happens in my guild and to anyone I know.

@Eishen: yes, many things will be restored if he decides to go on with it after all. Still the most valuable things can't be repaired: the feeling of trust, safety and confidence. That's really sad.

Anonymous said...

Our old GM suffered the same experience, and although it took a few weeks, everything was returned. It's a frustrating experience and I know personally it made me decide to throw down the six bucks for the authenticator.

The guild I'm currently in has a policy that no one can be an officer/leader in the guild without having one of the authenticators attached to their account. It's a simple thing to use and it does take away the fear of having something happen to the account.

Captain The First said...

blizzard authenticator. Buy it, use it, love it.

The blizzard authenticator reminds me a lot of the paladin's ardent defender talent. It may not work all the time, it may only help every once in a blue moon... but when it does it keeps you from getting killed.

I fully intend to get one this christmas... in fact I might even use my christmas bonus to sponsor a few authenticator's for my guild.

I really don't enjoy the feeling of logging in and while my character screen loads wondering if everything will still be there.

Darraxus said...

It was very odd, but a while back two of our raiding Mages had their accounts hacked. Between the two of them they have around 10 70s. One of the hackers actually transfered characters to different servers and deleted other ones. They got most of their stuff back and carried on.

Anonymous said...

This happened to me recently as well.

Sure he took all my money, and sold most of my stuff, which was annoying. But it was the choices he made after that really sucked.

There is a scene in “True Lies” where Tom Arnold’s character is talking about a woman that left him, and states: “She took the ice cube trays. What type of sick #$%@ takes the ice cube trays?”

He deleted 4 toons, based not on the gear level but on /played.
He sold everything that he could, and in cases where pieces couldn’t be sold he deleted them only if they were important to that character. For instance, he deleted my enhancement shamans melee weapons and my BM Hunter’s pet (a cat named Lou that had accompanied me from 11-70). And of course the thief also did something that got my account canceled for trying to damage the economy of WoW (guessing gold selling or botting)

Did I stop playing? No. But I only made a cursory attempt to get my account reinstated amounting to one email to Blizzard. Luckily, it was obvious upon review that I had been hacked and Blizzard did handle the restoration extremely well (although I never got my cat back).

The most disturbing part of this to me coincides with much of my problem with BC . . . the loss of the community. All the immature players who have flooded the servers in BC. The ones who spam the N word in trade chat, and afk through BGs so they can camp level 30s in Southshore while wearing S2. These griefers and useless players have hurt the game.

This wasn’t a guy who was stealing some food to feed his starving kids. This is a jerk who put thought and effort into screwing things up for me, with no upside to him.

Anonymous said...

@Stepford Mom & Captain the First: it sounds wise enough to get it. The cost of that thing isn't anything to complain about really, but I must admit that I don't like to get another obstacle to prolongue the procedure of logging in.
I wish we had a world where those things weren't needed.

@Gordo: oh that sucks. :(
And yes, the utterly pointlessness in it - the fact that it's just destroying without gaining anything - makes the deed even more evil and sad. You see that kind of random evilness in real life too of course. But I'd like the game to be a hideout, which it unfortunately isn't.

Fish said...

You have my condolences. I had my car broken into a few years ago and my stereo stolen. It just ruined my day. I can't believe people would do that intentionally just to get fake money. I can't stand gankers because what they're doing is intentionally ruining the game for someone else. This takes that behavior a step farther.

I hope he heals enough to calm down and rethink his decision.

SolidState said...

Just trying to get something positive out of this - can people who got hacked (including Larisa's friend and the other people who commented and told about getting hacked) - comment on how they got hacked and what they would advise the rest of us to do in order not to get hacked?

I've never gotten hacked so I don't know if I'm lucky or just using good practices, but here is what I would suggest (and what I practice myself):
1. Don't give your password to anyone. Not a friend. Not a family member. Anyone.
2. Use a strong password.
3. Use a legal copy of Windows (not pirated) and make sure it is always updated with latest security updates from the Windows Update site. As a side note, I wonder if anyone with a Mac has ever had his/her WoW account hacked (through an OS vulnerability)... I'm guessing no :)
4. Use a leading Firewall/Anti-Virus protection package which is updated whenever there is an update. Don't use one of the free packages out there or the Windows Firewall.
5. Use Firefox, not IE. It's not perfect but it is better in terms of security than IE.
6. Scan anything you download, especially executables and tarballs, before opening/running.
7. If your significant other and/or kids also use the computer make sure they know not to blindly click on browser messages... or get them their own machine ;)

No defense is perfect and a determined hacker will be able to get into your computer no matter what you do. But determined hackers are not wasting their time with WoW accounts, the people who hack WoW accounts are amateurs using off-the-shelf methods and tools. Good security practices should block 99.999% of that crap.


SolidState said...

I really don't enjoy the feeling of logging in and while my character screen loads wondering if everything will still be there.

If you see your character is wearing all his gear in the character selection gear, you are probably okay :)

Anonymous said...

I've heard so many horror stories about accounts getting hacked that I, like your friend, wondered if I would quit the game. At the time Wrath was still way out on the horizon and I wasn't looking forward to the prospect of gearing up again, even with help from guildies.

So I bought an authenticator. The thing works like a charm. Highly recommend that everyone get one.

That said, I've heard of people getting hacked because they gave a password to a friend, who evidently gave it to another friend, etc. I've also heard that those who buy gold run the risk of getting hacked. And I've heard of keylogger programs, though I'm not 100% sure of where these come from.

Anyone know how so many people are getting hacked?

Anonymous said...

@Fish: no signs of his returning yet, but I haven't given up hoping...

@Solidstate: very good suggestions how to improve security!

@Kyrilean: Another guy in our guild was hacked too the other day. What those guys have in common is that they used the Curse Downloader. I've heard several players doubting the security of that device and I've stopped using it now myself at least for now. You don't need that many addons for levelling purposes anyway.

Anonymous said...

this is horrible and sad.

a guildie also had his account hacked. when the hacker was online with his toon and with us reporting to GM, GM wouldn't do anything at the time. unfortunately the account wasn't under his name and he couldn't get it back and he had to wave goodbye to his raiding toon.