Victim of a hacking: One man’s experiences.

Been a while, I know, but I simply haven’t had anything terribly interesting to write about. But this weekend, Jeff Deonarine came through my particular section of Fort Worth, and we spend last night and all day today hanging out. We saw Prince Caspian, which I thought was a rather excellent film. Not having read the book in some time, I can’t say how it compares. I really do need to acquire a complete set of the Chronicles of Narnia, I suppose.

Jeff’s got himself a shiny motorcycle now, and he’s road tripping all the way to Pennsylvania. He’s already been through Waco though, so if ya didn’t see him, sorry, but it looks like you missed him.

Something else big happened this weekend to me, though. Something that any active WoW player fears happening. Most take a lot of precaution against it, but sometimes even all the precaution in the world isn’t enough.

This weekend, my WoW account was hacked. Or to put it in non-game terms, someone acquired the password to my World of Warcraft account, logged in, and sold everything I had and took my gold and sent it to characters unknown.

There are companies out there whose entire business model is to do things in the game to earn gold and then take that gold and sell it to players for real-world cash. They do this across numerous MMO games, such as World of Warcraft, Everquest, Ultima Online, and many many others.

However, recently there has been a rash of unscrupulous companies who employ methodologies to acquire other players passwords and steal their gold to resell to others. They do this in any number of ways

1. Certain sites have scripts in them which less-secure browsers (read: Internet Explorer and an improperly protected Firefox, among others) simply allow them to run without user consent. These scripts can install trojans and keyloggers onto your system without you knowing. It’s most often seen in ads. Many sites which claim to sell gold are really fronts to get these scripts installed on your system, at which point they can wait to log your password, dig it out from the logs, and steal everything you’ve worked hard to get.

2. Certain mod sites can hide executable files in mod packages which install keyloggers as well.

3. World of Warcraft does not have a set limit on the number of failed passwords it will accept before it stops allowing you to log in. So someone could run an automated program which attempts to “brute force” hack your account by trying every possible password combination. This is obviously incredibly tedious and rarely produces good results, but it can work.

So Saturday night, I attempt to log in to the game. I am greeted with the screen of my characters, and my Tauren Druid is naked. Not having logged him out that way, I panic and log in, to find myself without gear, and anything that could be sold was gone. I am soon kicked back off by the hacker logging back in as me to finish his work. I soon find that my password has been changed and I cannot get back in.

Quickly, I jump over to Worldofwarcraft.com, and request a password reset. Luckily, I have a security question set up. I get my new password (a long random gibberish string) and log back in to the game. The hacker no longer has a usable password, and cannot acquire the rest of my things.

The damage, however, was done. Grothi and Nihl were completely cleaned out. No armor, no items, and no gold to speak of, aside from those few that do not sell in the game. Dahkar, however, I managed to save for the most part. His armor was completely intact, but most of his other items had been sold or disenchanted for the enchanting materials. Those enchanting materials were also present, I managed to get my account back before he could sell those as well, or send them off to some other character.

Obviously, I am devastated (and incredibly furious). I immediately update every virus scanner, spyware scanner, and other cleaning implement I have installed, and run all of them. I found a spyware item that looked suspicious, but could not determine if it was a keylogger or something else. Either way, it’s dead and gone now.

Luckily, if it WAS a keylogger (and not a simple brute force attack), the person either did not care about or somehow failed to acquire my bank account number and password. I changed them both to be on the safe side.

My Firefox browser is now running the “Noscript” addon, which blocks ANY form of scripting from occuring in my browser without my direct authorization. I highly encourage anyone running Firefox to install this addon immediately. It could save your bacon. Click the link below to get it
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/722

I have, up until this point, referred to the perpetrator of this incident, and those like him as simply “person” and at worst as “unscrupulous”. That is simply my being extraordinarily full of restraint.

That ceases now.

The person or persons responsible for this reprehensible act are some of the lowest filth on the planet. This act is no less a declaration that their greed is more important to them than the very people they need as their customer base, and unfortunately they have a huge number of the player base fooled into still buying into their services. Frankly, I hope Blizzard does everything they can to make your industry no longer profitable, at least as far as WoW is concerned, and I hope you have to find some true honest work, or starve. I frankly do not care which.

I sincerely hope I never meet anyone who regularly commits such a disgusting act, for their sakes. Despicable failures of human beings, the lot of them.

Well, luckily, Blizzard has been extremely good to me. I reported the incident to one of the in-game support personnel, who quickly escalated the issue. By 3 am that morning, they had recreated or returned all of the items I had lost and sent them back to me. Within the next two days, I received back all of the gold that was stolen from me. My guildmates were extremely nice and offered a large amount of support to help me get back on my feet, or hooves, in one case. Luckily it turned out to not be necessary.

So, to the Blizzard team who responds to these cases, and gets the players back in the game, I thank you. Your customer support in this was excellent.

To all my guildmates, thank you for your well-wishes and offers. It’s times like these that show why I love my guild, and the people within it.

To the person(s) who believe that they have more right to what I have in World of Warcraft, what I have worked hard to acquire, than I do: I do hope you someday realize that what you have done and continue, I’m sure, to do is utterly reprehensible, and that you’re disgusted at yourself for ever having taken part in it.

For everyone else: Please take precautions to prevent these assholes from getting to you like they did to me. Stop using Internet Explorer. Get Firefox, and install the Noscript addon. Run spyware cleaners (I recommend Spybot Search and Destroy as well as Ad-Aware), virus scanners (AVG Antivirus is what I use) , and a good all in one cleaning program like CCleaner on a weekly basis. Keep a firewall program active (ZoneAlarm, COMODO, something) at all times. Secure your wireless internet, if you have it. Change your passwords on a regular basis. Be smart about your web surfing. This place is dangerous if you go to the wrong spots, and even worse if you’re not protected.

Good night folks, and Happy Memorial Day.

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