What is anti-cheat software and how does it work?

There are many online group games where users play together either competitively or interactively. Even if you’re not very good at the game, you’ll probably enjoy playing it and becoming a pro at it.

Unfortunately, the healthy atmosphere of many online games has been affected by the use of cheating. For this reason, developers have thought of dealing with this problem and have developed anti-cheat software. In this article, we will examine how these softwares work.

What is anti-cheat software and why is it important?

Anti-cheat software prevents cheating in games. In multiplayer games, there are different types of cheating; including Lag Switching, Aimbot, Wallhack, Speedhack and Scripting. As a result, various anti-cheating algorithms have been written to neutralize them.

A group of anti-cheat softwares are server-side (Server-Side) and run only when playing the game on the user’s system. These softwares constantly scan all processes inside the computer and network connections and even downloaded files to detect any unusual behavior. For example, you can Easy AntiCheat software He mentioned that by playing games Epic Games Runs.

Kernel-Side anti-cheat software is another type that is designed to detect and prevent cheating in multiplayer games by operating at the kernel level of the operating system. This category of software has a very deep penetration and priority of implementation in the system; Even more than other drivers and software.

Kernel-level software uses various methods to detect fraudulent behavior in real time; It scans game memory, monitors system calls, analyzes network traffic, and monitors system components to detect any signs of tampering or tampering.

Kernel-side anti-cheat software implements various security measures to protect itself against hacking by cheating software. These measures include code obfuscation, encryption, debugging techniques, and regular updates. BattlEye software is an example of kernel-side anti-cheat software that runs in games like Destiny 2 and Ark: Survival Evolved.

The anti-cheat software file is usually downloaded and installed after installing the game in the system. You may have seen its automatic download and installation after installing the game on your computer.

Imagine how annoying it is when you’re playing a first-person game and another player uses the aim cheat (imbat) to aim at your head without you having a chance to counter. Cheating ruins the fun of multiplayer for anyone.

Since trusting people not to use cheat codes and software is never a deterrent, anti-cheat software has been developed to prevent these behaviors. Without these softwares, you will see a lot of cheats in online games.

How does anti-cheat software work?

As we said, there are various anti-cheat software to prevent all types of cheating in online multiplayer games. Whether these software are server-side or kernel-side, they use various methods to neutralize cheat codes.

When a fraudster uses the lag switching method, he intentionally interrupts the Internet connection at certain intervals in order to take advantage of the interruption. In a game like Madden NFL, lag switching causes delays when the user is defending or attacking, or in games like Counter-Strike or Call of Duty, a player using lag switching cannot be shot; Because in fact, it is never present in the place it seems.

In these cases, server-side anti-cheat software can detect lag switching by recording data packets from all players and analyzing pings and time-stamping the samples. Then, by checking the player’s behavior, it looks for any suspicious changes in data packets and pings. This method of detecting lag switching was first registered by Sony in the form of a patent entitled “Detection of lag switch cheating in games”.

In games like Counter-Strike or Call of Duty, the server keeps samples of each player’s network traffic and ping. It then detects suspicious changes in ping or data behavior using fraud detection algorithms. By carefully analyzing the data and matching them with known patterns, this method can identify and eliminate log switching fraud.

As for cheats such as imbat and wallhack, these are often executable (exe) files that automatically perform game moves to unfairly advance the user. This work is also called scripting.

For example, Imbat registers the location of other players and automatically directs the target pointer to that player. To prevent this type of cheating, there will be a server-side anti-cheat algorithm that monitors each player’s movements.

The anti-cheat software on the kernel side, as we said before, has a lot of access to the system and is constantly looking for cheats, regardless of whether the user is playing or not. BattleEye And Easy Anti-Cheat They are very good examples of this type of software, and when installed on a computer, they check for malicious files that can automatically perform game moves.

When the software detects suspected cheating behavior in a player, it flags it in the system and bans the user directly or assigns it to an employee for investigation. Then, based on the collected evidence and the player’s case study, this employee makes a final decision about whether cheating has occurred.

Unfortunately, hackers always find ways to bypass anti-cheat software. It can be seen as a constant battle between game developers and hackers throughout the console and PC generations. Every time algorithms improve and block cheating methods, hackers try to find new ways to avoid it.

It’s a never-ending cycle, and it’s a challenge for programming teams to stay ahead of hackers and minimize fraud with constant innovation and updates. Anti-cheat software usually has a balance between advantages and disadvantages. If too many restrictions are applied, system performance may be affected and game lag may occur. For this reason, developers must be careful about the severity of the software.

Anti-cheat software problems

Over time, hackers have been able to write more sophisticated programs to cheat games. Accordingly, anti-fraud software must become more sophisticated in order to be able to face fraudsters. In the past, hackers have figured out a way to avoid anti-cheat software; So that they run the program at the kernel level, not through the game itself in which they intend to cheat. By doing this, they try to get out of the scope of detection and operation of user-mode anti-fraud software.

Running processes at the kernel level allows them to directly interact with the operating system and take advantage of more protection features and access to system resources. As a result, anti-fraud software developers must also find deeper methods to detect processes and frauds that run at higher levels in the system.

They should be able to detect suspicious and fraudulent activities at the kernel level and prevent them. Therefore, anti-cheat software was developed at the kernel level; So they scan the computer for any kind of software that might allow the user to cheat.

This method seems practical; But it also has problems. Softwares that operate at the kernel level have the ability to damage the computer and gamers may have to take their system to the repair shop just to enjoy the game.

Another concern of gamers is the loss of privacy. If anti-cheat software has access to the kernel level of the computer, it can actually read all the information on it. No gamer wants to be caught by cheaters while playing; But is it worth risking personal information?

The best anti-cheat software for fair play

If you know how widespread cheating is in online group games, you will be surprised; For this reason, the existence of software to neutralize frauds has become an important necessity in the game space, which makes the game environment fairer. Today, most team and competitive games have anti-cheat software. In the following, we will introduce some of them.

Easy Anti-Cheat (EAC) is a type of non-intrusive software that largely prevents cheaters from attacking any game connected to it. This software is part of Epic Games services and is mainly installed on the computer along with its games. Fortnite, Apex Legends, Paladins, Rust and The Division 2 are among the games that use this software.

Easy Anti-Cheat can be identified by its blue color scheme and bear symbol. By scanning the computer, this software protects it against invasive software that may attack the game. If a suspicious software or file is detected on a computer, the game will not be launched until that software or file is deleted. Easy Anti-Cheat is easy to use; But it can be bypassed. Games that use this software still have cheating issues.

BattlEye takes a more proactive approach to the issue of cheating. This software uses the kernel-based anti-cheat method and checks the player’s computer kernel. BattlEye software runs regular scans while the user is playing. Its sophisticated routines detect any suspicious attempts while playing the game.

Once the fraudulent user is detected, his account will be completely blocked. This method is especially useful in paid games. This software is used in games like PUBG, Rainbow Six Siege, and Conan Exiles.

With more than 15 years of history, PunkBuster is a well-known name among anti-cheat software. Its main purpose is to remove cheating from online games. To this end, Even Balance Inc. has partnered with popular brands in the gaming industry to make this goal a reality. As a result, PunkBuster has experienced and dealt with creative fraud. This software can be installed directly on the computer and works with many game engines.

PunkBuster is not generic anti-cheat software; Rather, the company that created it has done special research for each type of game and integrated countermeasures related to them. Ghost Recon Future Soldier, Warhammer Online, Assassin’s Creed 3 are some of the games that can be mentioned in the field of this software.

4. Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC)

If you’ve ever tried to install Steam on your computer, you probably know that it was originally used as a platform for updating Valve games. Since then, it has expanded to include hundreds of games from different developers.

VAC was Valve’s solution to maintaining a fair atmosphere in their games. This software is famous for creating security in Counter-Strike: Global-Offensive game.

VAC is constantly updated and the restrictions imposed by this software are permanent. Accounts affected by a VAC penalty are never recoverable.

The same fear of losing account and game records has made gamers not to cheat in Counterstrike game. As a result, all games running on the Steam platform use the same anti-cheat system.

Maintaining fair competition is very important in most tactical games. Riot understands this and designed Vanguard specifically to prevent cheating in Valorant.

Vanguard is an effective kernel-level anti-cheat system that instantly detects game file vulnerabilities. This system operates at the deepest layer of the computer and usually does not miss any suspicious files.

This anti-cheat software is a live service that bans the detected cheater from continuing the game and notifies other players about this. Valorant will not run without Vanguard installed. The reason for this is that cheaters in tactical games face considerable difficulties.

If you have ever experienced playing online group games, share your opinion about cheating, cheating gamers and anti-cheat software with us and other Zomit users.

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