Game developer Valve has announced that it permanently banned more than 40,000 accounts for using cheating software to gain an unfair advantage over other players in the Dota 2 game.
The cheat gave players access to internal client app information that is not visible during normal gameplay, thus obtaining a competitive advantage.
Dota 2 is a popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game. It has a professional competition scene with numerous tournaments and leagues for all playing levels.
Success in Dota 2 relies on strategic thinking, quick reflexes, and teamwork.
An unhealthy competitive spirit pushes some players to seek alternative means to gain an advantage over their opponents, and there’s an entire industry of third-party cheats that accommodates that demand.
To maintain a fair playing environment for everyone to enjoy, it is crucial for Valve to identify and stop the use of these cheats as quickly as possible.
Setting up a honeypot
In this case, Valve developed a patch that acted as a honeypot, catching requests on areas that shouldn’t be queried or monitored by the gaming app.
“This patch created a honeypot: a section of data inside the game client that would never be read during normal gameplay, but that could be read by these exploits,” Valve explains.
“Each of the accounts banned today read from this “secret” area in the client, giving us extremely high confidence that every ban was well-deserved.”
After the Dota 2 gaming community applied the patch, which is a mandatory requirement to join multiplayer games, it was revealed that over 40,000 accounts were using the cheating software.
This makes it one of the most prevalent cheats ever seen in the game’s history.
Valve says it decided to publicize this crackdown case, which is just one of the many they carry out in its effort to fight cheaters, to pass a clear message to all players, including professionals who take part in official Valve events, that using software to read data from the client during playtime will result in permanent account bans.
It should be noted that game cheats are often a threat as they can also infect players’ computers with info-stealing malware and cryptocurrency miners.
At the start of this month, security researchers discovered malicious Dota 2 game modes on Steam, which exploited a flaw in the game to infect players with malware.