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Posts with tag world-of-warcraft-private-servers

Blizzard may be hiding information in your screenshots, but it can't hurt you

Blizzard may have embedded info in your screenshots, but it's not a big deal
We're hearing from sources around the internet today that Blizzard has been discovered to be including extra information in screenshots taken from within the game via a hidden watermark. Allegedly, some of this information includes the server IP (not your IP), the account number (not the associated email address or account name), and the time and date the screenshot was taken.

While this might sound unsettling at first, there's a few things we want to get out right away. Please read them carefully, because this isn't as much a security risk as some currently believe:
  • Your account cannot be hacked with this information
  • There is no personal security risk
  • There is no online security risk
These watermarks provide Blizzard with information to go after players posting cheats or private servers. If Blizzard knows the IP of a private server, then it can send take down notices. If it knows the account number of the person posting screenshots of an internal alpha test, then it can terminate that employee or suspend their alpha testing account.

What can't happen is that the information cannot be used to trace screenshots to your IP, allowing someone to identify where you lived. The account number isn't a big deal, either. That number is already accessible via the Armory. The account number cannot be used to hack your account. While we all may not want this information divulged publicly on principle, it can't be used to hurt you, even if it is spooky.

We have been able to reproduce the watermark (or whatever the artifacts may be) fairly simply. Again, though, there is no information in these watermarks that connect your screenshots to you, the person behind your keyboard, living on Dreary Lane. Only to connect your public display of cheating to your World of Warcraft account and/or private server.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Breakfast Topic: Are private servers really that bad?

Blizzard has a very clear line on private servers: they are against the rules. If you have one or play on one you're going to get in trouble. Your account will get shut down and you'll likely face some legal issues if you don't capitulate to their demands.

However is their stance right? Are private servers really that big of a deal?

There are two ways that I look at the issue. One way is to view the issue through the lens of morality and legalese. In this respect Blizzard is on solid ground. They own Warcraft and all the associated games, and they own the servers we play on. When we buy the game we're not buying the property. We're buying the right to use the property as long as we keep paying a monthly fee, and as long as we operate within their guidelines (the terms of service).

Some might contend that there is an innate right to privacy in the fact that after we've purchased the game (and its associated data), Blizzard has no right to tell us what to do with it or to find out how we're using it. I'm not a lawyer, but some are, and there's an interesting debate to be had here.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics

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