Monday, October 10, 2022

A PSA for the PSA: New World, Easy Anticheat, and your computer's security software

 There is a PSA (public service announcement) circulating for New World players that proclaims a fix for "desync" (i.e. your computer and the game server being out of sync).  The fix asks you to exclude Easy Anticheat (the anticheat software used by New World) from your computers security software (usually just Microsoft Window's firewall).  This PSA is asking users to punch a big old hole in your computer's defense against rogue actors on the internet so consider this most my PSA for the PSA.  

DON'T DO IT (and no, I won't link to it)

This change is a bad idea and any "positive" result from making the change is likely a placebo effect.  While there is a plausible technical explanation that game + anticheat traffic is being combined together and thus allowing anticheat a free pass through security processing will improve performance it is an unlikely scenario.  If it is actually happening then that's a risk in and of itself.

For science I did make the change and there was zero change in how the game performed.  With the change reverted the experience is the same as it was when the change was in effect.

Why is it a bad idea to make this change?  Because anticheat software has unfettered access to deep levels of your computer to catch cheaters.  That unfettered access is fine if all its doing is trying to catch cheaters, but if that anticheat is ever compromised (see video at end of post) then letting it bypass security software is a terrible idea as it will give hackers that same unfettered access to your computer.

If I was a hacker that had access to compromised software this type of PSA to a group of users motivated to make the change is exactly the sort of stuff I'd love to see.

I could go on and and on about this, but instead I'll leave this below video on the risks with anticheat software.  I'd encourage anyone evaluating making this change to watch this video and decide if any possible benefit is worth the risk to giving anticheat a free pass to and from the internet.  Anticheat is a necessary component of online gaming, but there is no reason to take extra steps to make it any more of a risk.

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