Sat. Sep 24th, 2022
Artistic view of hackers queuing for these new bug bounties.
enlarge Artistic view of hackers queuing for these new bug bounties.

Last week we looked at the new Vanguard anti-cheat system used in Riot’s Valorant and the potential security risks of the kernel-level driver it uses. Now, in an effort to “keep players playing our games with peace of mind,” Riot says it’s “putting our money where our mouth is” with an expanded bug bounty program, offering more money for Vanguard’s discovery. vulnerabilities . Bug rewards aren’t new to the gaming industry or even to Riot Games, which says it has paid out nearly $2 million in such rewards since launching its bounty program in 2016. But Riot now offers “even higher bounties” of up to $100,000. specifically for the discovery of “high-quality reports demonstrating practical exploits using the Vanguard kernel driver.”

The biggest bounties in Riot’s recently expanded program are available for attacks that can exploit the Vanguard driver to run unauthorized kernel-level code — something of a nightmare scenario that could give an attacker full, low-level access to a machine — but exploits who only provide “unauthorized access to sensitive data” are also rewarded. The bounties apply to network-based attacks that do not require user interaction, vulnerabilities that require user action (such as clicking a malicious link), and exploits that require “guest user” access to the system itself, in descending order of possible reward .

Offering bug bounties is an attempt to distort the incentive structure for would-be Vanguard attackers, making it more lucrative to report bugs than to misuse them for use by cheating programs or hacking tools. Riot anti-cheat leader Paul Chamberlain said a similar incentive issue was behind Riot’s decision to primarily use a kernel-level driver for Vanguard.

Beating a kernel-level driver “requires a different (more strenuous) approach from cheat developers to attack,” Chamberlain told Ars. “Cheat developers working at the kernel level need to get around the restrictions that Microsoft puts on kernel level software. This extra work reduces incentives for cheat developers because their cheats are harder to create, less convenient for players to install, and just generally less profitable to sell.

“We don’t expect any protection to go unscathed forever, but Vanguard’s protection is strong, and as cheat developer tactics evolve, so will ours.”

Earning Players’ Trust

Announcing the new bug bounties, a group of senior Riot security officials wrote that they “understand that the decision to run the driver component in kernel mode may raise concerns.” That said, they also want to reassure players that “we would never let Riot ship anything if we weren’t sure it was treating players’ privacy and security with the extreme seriousness they deserve.”

The statement reiterates that while the signed kernel-level driver runs at startup “to prevent cheats from loading prior to client initialization,” a user-level client “handles all anti-cheat detections while a game is running.” At that point, the user-level client uses the driver “to validate memory and system status and ensure that the client has not been tampered with.” The driver itself “doesn’t collect or send any information about your computer back to us,” they wrote.

“We would never let Riot ship anything we couldn’t stand behind from a player confidence perspective (not that we think Riot would ever try,” Riot’s security representatives wrote. “Players have every right to ask us questions and challenge us, but let’s be clear, we wouldn’t be working here if we didn’t care deeply about players’ trust and privacy and didn’t believe that Riot was just there. We’re players just like you, and we wouldn’t install programs on our computer that we didn’t have full confidence in.”

By akfire1

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