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Authenticator failure revisited, Blizzard responds

We created a lot of waves with this post about Blizzard's Authenticator key allegedly failing -- as you know if you've been listening to the podcast, lots of people have emailed us with their own input on the situation, alternately thanking us for making it known that the Authenticator wasn't 100% secure, and lambasting us for being "ignorant" about how Blizzard's security token works. At the base of the story, there are two things we know are true: that someone was using the Authenticator on their account, and then was subsequently hacked. For that reason, we've stood by the "Authenticator fails" story -- while having an Authenticator on your account is a helpful line of defense, it, like all other computer security measures, isn't a 100% guarantee against getting hacked.

Most people agree on that. Where opinions differ are in how the account was hacked -- originally, we and a few other sources speculated that the Authenticator had been somehow removed from the account in question. But now Belfaire has responded (we believe to the incident in question, though a link to our story was removed from the original post), and says that as far as he can tell, the Authenticator was not removed from the account. In fact, after the password was changed back, the Authenticator's serial key was asked for and given, so the Authenticator remained attached to the account the whole time.

Of course, that just leaves the most important question: how did the account get hacked? We've heard all kinds of various insights as to how the Authenticator works (it only lasts for 60 seconds, supposedly each key can only be used once, so there's no way a keylogger could nab the Authenticator code and reuse it), but the fact remains that the person we're talking about was using the key, and still got hacked. One hack out of all the Authenticators sold so far is a terrific record, and could prove that, statistically, an Authenticator is good as 100% security. But the fact remains that this person got hacked while using the key (however it was done), and if security can be broken once, it will be broken again.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Account Security

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