Exploiting Online Games: Cheating Massively Distributed Systems Paperback – Jul 9 2007
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From the Back Cover
"Imagine trying to play defense in football without ever studying offense. You would not know when a run was coming, how to defend pass patterns, nor when to blitz. In computer systems, as in football, a defender must be able to think like an attacker. I say it in my class every semester, you don't want to be the last person to attack your own system--you should be the first.
"The world is quickly going online. While I caution against online voting, it is clear that online gaming is taking the Internet by storm. In our new age where virtual items carry real dollar value, and fortunes are won and lost over items that do not really exist, the new threats to the intrepid gamer are all too real. To protect against these hazards, you must understand them, and this groundbreaking book is the only comprehensive source of information on how to exploit computer games. Every White Hat should read it. It's their only hope of staying only one step behind the bad guys."
--Aviel D. Rubin, Ph.D.
Professor, Computer Science
Technical Director, Information Security Institute
Johns Hopkins University
"Everyone's talking about virtual worlds. But no one's talking about virtual-world security. Greg Hoglund and Gary McGraw are the perfect pair to show just how vulnerable these online games can be."
"If we're going to improve our security practices, frank discussions like the ones in this book are the only way forward. Or as the authors of this book might say, when you're facing off against Heinous Demons of Insecurity, you need experienced companions, not to mention a Vorpal Sword of Security Knowledge."
--Edward W. Felten, Ph.D.
Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs
Director, Center for Information Technology Policy
"Historically, games have been used by warfighters to develop new capabilities and to hone existing skills--especially in the Air Force. The authors turn this simple concept on itself, making games themselves the subject and target of the 'hacking game,' and along the way creating a masterly publication that is as meaningful to the gamer as it is to the serious security system professional.
"Massively distributed systems will define the software field of play for at least the next quarter century. Understanding how they work is important, but understanding how they can be manipulated is essential for the security professional. This book provides the cornerstone for that knowledge."
Chief, Information Protection Directorate
United States Air Force
"Like a lot of kids, Gary and I came to computing (and later to computer security) through games. At first, we were fascinated with playing games on our Apple ][s, but then became bored with the few games we could afford. We tried copying each other's games, but ran up against copy-protection schemes. So we set out to understand those schemes and how they could be defeated. Pretty quickly, we realized that it was a lot more fun to disassemble and work around the protections in a game than it was to play it.
"With the thriving economies of today's online games, people not only have the classic hacker's motivation to understand and bypass the security of games, but also the criminal motivation of cold, hard cash. That's a combination that's hard to stop. The first step, taken by this book, is revealing the techniques that are being used today."
--Greg Morrisett, Ph.D.
Allen B. Cutting Professor of Computer Science
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
"If you're playing online games today and you don't understand security, you're at a real disadvantage. If you're designing the massive distributed systems of tomorrow and you don't learn from games, you're just plain sunk."
--Brian Chess, Ph.D.
Founder/Chief Scientist, Fortify Software
Coauthor ofSecure Programming with Static Analysis
"This book offers up a fascinating tour of the battle for software security on a whole new front: attacking an online game. Newcomers will find it incredibly eye opening and even veterans of the field will enjoy some of the same old programming mistakes given brilliant new light in a way that only massively-multiplayer-supermega-blow-em-up games can deliver. w00t!"
Principal Consultant, Cigital
Coauthor ofNetwork Security with OpenSSL
If you are a gamer, a game developer, a software security professional, or an interested bystander, this book exposes the inner workings of online-game security for all to see.
From the authors of the best-sellingExploiting Software,Exploiting Online Gamestakes a frank look at controversial security issues surrounding MMORPGs, such as World of Warcraft™and Second Life™. This no-holds-barred book comes fully loaded with code examples, debuggers, bots, and hacks.
This book covers
- Why online games are a harbinger of software security issues to come
- How millions of gamers have created billion-dollar virtual economies
- How game companies invade personal privacy
- Why some gamers cheat
- Techniques for breaking online game security
- How to build a bot to play a game for you
- Methods for total conversion and advanced mods
Written by the world's foremost software security experts, this book takes a close look at security problems associated with advanced, massively distributed software. With hundreds of thousands of interacting users, today's online games are a bellwether of modern software. The kinds of attack and defense techniques described inExploiting Online Gamesare tomorrow's security techniques on display today.
About the Author
Greg Hoglund has been involved with software security for many years, specializing in Windows rootkits and vulnerability exploitation. He founded the website www.rootkit.com, and has coauthored several books on software security (Exploiting Software: How to Break Code and Rootkits: Subverting the Windows Kernel, both from Addison-Wesley). Greg is a long-time game hacker and spends much of his free time reverse engineering and tooling exploits for new games. Professionally, Greg offers in-depth training on rootkit development and software exploits. He is currently CEO of HBGary, Inc. (www.hbgary.com), building a world-class product for software reverse engineering and digital forensics.
Gary McGraw is the CTO of Cigital, Inc., a software security and quality consulting firm with headquarters in the Washington, D.C., area. He is a globally recognized authority on software security and the author of six best-selling books on this topic. The latest, Software Security: Building Security In, was released in 2006. His other titles include Java Security (Wiley), Building Secure Software (Addison-Wesley), and Exploiting Software (Addison-Wesley). He is the editor of the Addison-Wesley Software Security Series. Dr. McGraw has also written more than 90 peer-reviewed scientific publications, writes a monthly security column for darkreading.com, and is frequently quoted in the press. Besides serving as a strategic counselor for top business and IT executives, Gary is on the advisory boards of Fortify Software and Raven White. His dual Ph.D. is in cognitive science and computer science from Indiana University where he serves on the Dean's Advisory Council for the School of Informatics. Gary is an IEEE Computer Society Board of Governors member and produces the monthly Silver Bullet Security Podcast for IEEE Security & Privacy magazine.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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This book is a mess of poorly explained code snippets and self promotion. Also, it focues 90% of its hacking on WoW. If you don't know anything about World of Warcraft, then you will be completly lost. I have /timeplayed 1000 hours, so I could follow all of the WoW references, but unfamiliar readers will not understand large parts of the book.
Half of the work in this book is just cut and pasted from code scattered on the internet. If you don't know C++, how to exploit the Windows OS, or modifying memory, these walls of code don't make much sense.
This is the first book I have ever returned. The constant self promoting and lazy cut and paste code just frustrated the hell out of me.
Even if you're a security expert, this will teach you things. For example, the requirements of games (responsiveness, good use of network bandwidth, etc.) force them to design their systems with risk, and that risk can be exploited. The only alternative is to run the entire game on their servers and have the client programs be merely display stations, and that just won't work. It makes for a very good read.
Even Hoglund's political rants are fun to read, even as they ring hollow. It's okay for him to hack the system by any means necessary, because he's a hacker and that's what hackers do. But it's not okay for the people who run these games to hack him back because that's an invasion of privacy. How dare they! It strikes me that the real offense is that he was out-hacked, and yeah, it's annoying to lose.
I rate it only three stars because I expect it will not age well. If you're reading this review in 2007, buy the book, it's great. Buy it, you'll love it. If you're reading it in 2008, 2009, or beyond, recognize that the principles he shows are liable to be true for a long time, but the details have a shelf-life.
The focus of the book is on manipulating the client side of the game, with relatively little on server vulnerabilities. There's also not very much guidance to game designers on how to avoid the problems covered in the book.
I was pleased that the book covers not only the security issues, but also related topics such as privacy, and the ethical issues for both providers of online games and the hackers who play and subvert the games.
Many of the lessons are applicable to any distributed system with thick clients, including not only game software but also business systems. As such, it's worthwhile reading for developers of nearly any distributed system, as it will give a reasonably accurate picture of the lengths that attackers are willing to go to in compromising a distributed system, and the abilities they have to manipulate software without designs or source code.
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