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Privacy Games

Report: Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) Scans Your DNS History 373

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-have-a-look dept.
dotarray writes "If a recent report is to be believed, Valve is looking at your browsing history. Reportedly, the company's Valve Anti Cheat system (VAC) looks at all the domains you have visited, and if it finds that you've frequented hack sites, you'll be banned. 'The new functionality has been slammed by gamers, who claim it is "more like spyware than anti-cheat". Valve has not responded to the allegations, but all Steam users have agreed to abide by specific online conduct and not to use cheats. The company's privacy policy also explains that Valve may collect "personally identifiable information", but promises not to share it with other parties.'"
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Report: Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) Scans Your DNS History

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  • Re:So (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 17, 2014 @09:45AM (#46266453)

    Create a steam user without access to your real user's files. Run steam only as this user.

  • Re:So (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 17, 2014 @09:45AM (#46266457)
    Cancel subscription, uninstall steam and move on.
  • Re:So (Score:4, Informative)

    by l_bratch (865693) <l_bratch@yahoo.co.uk> on Monday February 17, 2014 @09:54AM (#46266551) Homepage

    The claim is that the operating system's DNS cache is scanned, not any particular application's history.

  • DEBUNKED (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 17, 2014 @09:59AM (#46266601)

    This story is being debunked in the original reddit thread.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/1y4za5/steams_vac_now_reads_all_the_domains_you_have/

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 17, 2014 @10:07AM (#46266689)

    > Indeed, it also says the the actual entries themselves are not sent back, but only the hashes

    DNS names are easily enumeratable, the only reason to emphasize that it's hashes is if you're clueless or dishonest.
    From a privacy perspective, they are sending back DNS names, saying that's hashes is only fooling people.

  • Re:So (Score:5, Informative)

    by l_bratch (865693) <l_bratch@yahoo.co.uk> on Monday February 17, 2014 @10:15AM (#46266765) Homepage

    I agree that it's very invasive if the list is returned to Valve, however I can't find any evidence that it is. The code originally posted only details the *reading* and hashing of the DNS cache, with no sign of *transmitting* it.

    As far as I can see, numerous headlines and articles since the code was posted have made the claim that the list is sent to Valve, without any evidence.

  • Re:So (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anubis IV (1279820) on Monday February 17, 2014 @10:43AM (#46267037)

    why do you put up with this kind of crap?

    Cost, convenience, and a lack of alternatives.

    I license the right to play a game from Steam, usually for dirt cheap prices, and in exchange, it's available on any Internet-connected computer I own. Should I lack an Internet connection, it's possible to enable an offline mode as well, allowing me to continue playing regardless of my lack of a connection.

    Games haven't been owned by anyone for a long time now. Even buying a physical disc is just buying a license to play the game, which can and does get revoked in cases of abuse (see: Halo 4 [xbox.com], Call of Duty: Ghosts [slashgear.com], Diablo III [battle.net]). Of the companies out there that are licensing games to customers, Steam is relatively permissive, and it's rare that a typical gamer will run into issues with them.

  • Re:So (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sowelu (713889) on Monday February 17, 2014 @02:04PM (#46269249)

    Worth noting that VAC doesn't lock you out of running games or delete your account, it just prevents you from playing multiplayer on VAC servers. VAC is a voluntary-to-publisher service that Valve offers to creators of multiplayer games. If a publisher says "yeah, if someone cheats on a different game then we don't want them playing on our servers either", they can do that...it's pretty much the same as publicly shared email blackhole lists. If you have a problem with a publisher putting VAC in their games, complain about them and not Valve.

    Many (most?) multiplayer games that let players run their own servers give an option of running a non-VAC one, or to connect directly to IP, whatever.

    Seriously...even if Valve didn't run VAC, someone else would run an equivalent service (can you say Punkbuster?). All it takes is for one or two companies to say "hey we have this way to detect cheaters, why don't we share the steam keys of the cheaters we find and keep them from playing online on our servers", and there you go.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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