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Breathe a sigh of relief: Valve isn’t tracking your web history

Valve big boss Gabe Newell denies claims made on Reddit.


Valve’s Gabe Newell has outright denied accusations that Valve’s anti-cheat software, VAC, is tracking user’s web histories as alleged by a Reddit user in a highly upvoted thread on the forum’s Counter Strike: Global Offensive subreddit.

It was alleged that Valve’s anti-cheat software was siphoning user’s DNS data — sort of the “metadata” we’ve become so familiar with in a post-PRISM world which could paint a picture of a user’s browsing habits — back to Valve in an encrypted format. The original poster of the thread found this out by decompiling and examining the game’s exe files.

The often elusive Newell responded to these allegations with a short and succinct Q and A:

1) Do we send your browsing history to Valve? No.

2) Do we care what porn sites you visit? Oh, dear god, no. My brain just melted.

3) Is Valve using its market success to go evil? I don’t think so, but you have to make the call if we are trustworthy. We try really hard to earn and keep your trust.

Newell rationalized the DNS data tracking by explaining that many advanced kernel level cheats require a monthly payment from the user and frequently “phone home” to a server in order to verify that the user has paid the monthly fee. As these servers usually don’t make the effort to hide their efforts, this leaves a recognizable pattern in the user’s DNS cache.

The efficacy is this is now in question, and matching DNS caches to a blacklist may be an outdated tactic, as Newell says hackers have adapted.

“Cheat providers have worked around it by manipulating the DNS cache of their customers’ client machines,” he said.

Newell also hinted that this could be a false flag effort in order to diminish user’s trust in VAC.

“Social engineering might be a cheaper way to attack the system than continuing the code arms race, which means that there will be more Reddit posts trying to cast VAC in a sinister light.”

Source: Reddit, (2)

Via: The Verge 


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