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Blizzard's new Warden, and our privacy

Tech community Slashdot is going mad over a little present Blizzard apparently included with patch 2.3 this week: a brand new version of Warden (the program Blizzard uses to check for hacks, bots, and keyloggers) that they say effectively gives Blizzard total control over our computers. The technical stuff is a little hard to understand, but apparently Warden is what's called a "polymorphic program"-- that means that it actually hides from anyone looking at it exactly what it's doing and which files it's changing with a random code. Obviously, Blizzard wants to keep the program's activities secret from attackers-- if a hacker knows what Warden does, then he can more easily avoid it.

In previous versions of Warden, this randomization was "easy to predict," but Slashdot is saying that the new version effectively hides from even the user exactly what Blizzard is doing on your computer. Now, there is no clear reason why Blizzard would want to do anything bad with your computer-- odds are that this new software is the most effective version they've yet developed at making sure you can play the game without fear of hacks or keyloggers, and that's all they want to do with it.

But you should know that, according to "Captain Kirk," who wrote this article, Blizzard effectively has access to anything and everything on your computer, and can now edit or retrieve information at will without even you knowing what has happened. There's no reason not to trust Blizzard-- they're a high profile company with a long reputation of developing great software. But if a wayward employee at Blizzard wanted to steal your private information from your computer, or install a virus or malware on your PC, we're being told that this program will let them do it without your knowledge. You agreed to this-- it's in Section 14 of the Terms of Use-- and so it's up to you whether you trust Blizzard with your computer or not.

WoW Insider has contacted Blizzard and asked them to clarify the situation if necessary-- we'll let you know if we hear anything from them.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

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