hybrid play Rene Holt, a security writer at ESET, talks about whether VALORANT‘s approach to cheating marks a turning point in how we deal with the ongoing hacks that affect our hybrid work-play world—first social apps, then gaming—or whether it is just another example of the problem. Users of cloud-based applications like Telegram and Teams have formed massive communities.
Personal self-expression and the kinds of risk-taking that are well-known on social media platforms have been made possible by many of these apps. Oversharing, making new friends, clicking on clickbait, and phishing are now commonplace in our work, social, and gaming lives; Our hybrid lives blur the lines far too much to eliminate the risks.
However, what about the cloud's free server space, where millions of gamers, educators, and students are participating in a brave new world of digital possibility and risk? We find a form of "natural selection" manipulated by moderators and bots in the now-established platform of Discord, as well as an "evolution" occurring in real time as communities adapt to new members' expectations for performance, fun, profitability, gameplay, fairness, and security.
Discord is a cloud server with text and voice channels, screen sharing, and file upload capabilities that was developed as a communication tool for gamers. The rules and moderation of how members interact with one another are up to each community. Developers can even create bots and webhooks using the programming interface that Discord provides. Threat actors are increasingly utilizing Discord for malware distribution, data exfiltration, and Command and Control (C&C) communication due to its extensive collaboration features.
Let's take a look at what the members of one of Discord's largest gaming communities have been up to in their hybrid lives, sharing their passion for VALORANT while fighting the tide of cheating that is spreading across the gaming landscape, to highlight the changes that are taking place in the gaming industry.
The hybrid play Worldhybrid play
Lockdowns in some businesses in 2020 prompted a renewed focus on the cloud as a necessary transformation for business continuity. However, plans moved forward with the release of VALORANT, a free online multiplayer first-person shooter, by Riot Games, which had already been utilizing the cloud as the primary enabler for their business model. A million people have joined the official VALORANT Discord server, making it the most popular server since August 2022, two years after the game's release.
Is the game's unique gameplay to blame for its meteoric rise in popularity? If this is the case, how has VALORANT dealt with the persistent issue of cheating? Finally, is there a connection between this strategy and other aspects of our hybrid, cloud-enabled world?
A renewed focus on the cloud as a necessary transformation for business continuity was prompted by lockdowns in some businesses in 2020. However, with the release of VALORANT, a free online multiplayer first-person shooter developed by Riot Games, which had been relying heavily on the cloud to support their business model, plans moved forward. The official VALORANT Discord server has received one million new members, making it the most popular server since August 2022, two years after the game's release.
Is the game's meteoric rise in popularity attributable to its original gameplay? If this is the case, how has VALORANT dealt with the problem of cheating that hasn't gone away? Lastly, does this strategy relate to other aspects of our hybrid, cloud-enabled world?
Anti-Cheat Software with hybrid play:
By requiring players to run the anti-cheat software Vanguard concurrently with VALORANT with hybrid play, this effort to promote fair and competitive gameplay is protected. A kernel-mode driver is used by Vanguard to identify the gamer's computer's vulnerable drivers and either stop them from running or stop VALORANT from running. This driver can detect attempts to load cheats prior to starting the game because it runs when the computer boots. Additionally, Vanguard has a user-mode client application that looks for aimbots and other cheats in the game.
The security features that are incorporated into VALORANT also deal with cheating. The game, for instance, employs a Fog of War system to stop wallhacks, in which cheaters see opponents through walls. Cheating could result in a hardware ban on the cheater's computer as punishment.
There has been a lot of discussion about this aggressive approach to the technology's implementation and how players feel about the implications for their PCs' independence. Putting the Vanguard client application under the microscope of a detection and response tool like ESET Inspect reveals a different picture, despite some critics' claims that anti-cheat software is spyware. Only Vanguard injecting a thread into the VALORANT process's virtual address space is flagged by the ESET Inspect console, giving Vanguard a comprehensive look at VALORANT. This is not at all suspicious given the purpose of anti-cheat software.
Ultimately, the attraction of VALORANT lies in its strong anti-cheating and sabotage strategy, which focuses on skill development, teamwork, and winning strategies.
Effects In A hybrid play world:
The curse of hybrid play cheating has followed the transition from offline gaming to online multiplayer games and esports. Much like malware is a problem on the internet, cheats are a problem in the esports industry. Cheats development necessitates the same tools and expertise as vulnerability researchers and malware developers, so the connection is even deeper. Some even consider the creation of cheats to be the stepping stone to the creation of malware.
As a result, anti-cheat software plays a similar role to security software in confronting some of the same exploitation strategies utilized by malware authors. Therefore, dealing with the issue of cheating is very similar to dealing with the issue of malware because it requires identifying and keeping an eye on the methods that are used to gain an illegal advantage or control over another.
Holding cheaters and hackers accountable will be essential to safeguarding our progress in a world that is being transformed by the ongoing cloudification of offline activities. This is the only way the game's excitement or any other hybrid activity can maintain its unwavering appeal.
Gamers make up one of the largest communities made up of users of these cloud-based apps, platforms, and environments. Where are the gamers, too? Well, most likely on Discord servers for the games they enjoy most. However, just as the cyberwar against hacks that pose a threat to our hybrid lives continues, so does the war against game cheating. It is a phenomenon looking in the mirror at itself.
Can the way gamers dealt with cheating serve as a lesson for our hybrid world? One strategy is to use anti-cheat software; however, do algorithms that monitor behavior, relationships, and playing patterns in games have broader implications? Regardless of the cloud-based environment we might be a part of, the same question may still be relevant beyond gaming.
We hope to have demonstrated how deeply ingrained we have become in our hybrid lives by running through these popular cloud-powered apps, platforms, environments, and games. Despite the fact that fusion has the potential to enhance our human and social experiences, it serves as a reminder that well-defined restrictions can help ensure that we continue to enjoy the benefits by maintaining a focus on privacy and security, just as we do in the real world.