World of Warcraft

Well, not Warcraft/World of Warcraft per se, but an an application called the “Warden Client”, downloaded on the fly from Blizzard servers.


“I watched the warden sniff down the email addresses of people I was communicating with on MSN, the URL of several websites that I had open at the time, and the names of all my running programs, including those that were minimized or in the toolbar. These strings can easily contain social security numbers or credit card numbers, for example, if I have Microsoft Excel or Quickbooks open w/ my personal finances at the time…

Next, warden opens every process running on your computer. When each program is opened, warden then calls ReadProcessMemory and reads a series of addresses – usually in the 0x0040xxxx or 0x0041xxxx range – this is the range that most executable programs on windows will place their code. Warden reads about 10-20 bytes for each test, and again hashes this and compares against a list of banning hashes. These tests are clearly designed to detect known 3rd party programs, such as wowglider and friends. Every process is read from in this way. I watched warden open my email program, and even my PGP key manager. Again, I feel this is a fairly severe violation of privacy, but what can you do? It would be very easy to devise a test where the warden clearly reads confidential or personal information without regard.

This behavior places the warden client squarely in the category of spyware. What is interesting about this is that it might be the first use of spyware to verify compliance with a EULA. I cannot imagine that such practices will be legal in the future, but right now in terms of law, this is the wild wild west. You can’t blame Blizz for trying, as well as any other company, but this practice will have to stop if we have any hope of privacy. Agree w/ botting or game cheaters or not, this is a much larger issue called ‘privacy’ and Blizz has no right to be opening my excel or PGP programs, for whatever reason.”

Alex Eckelberry
(Thanks Dan)


Update:  Well, this certainly was a roasty hot subject.  I should clarify that Blizzard uses this technology to find “cheaters”, which this fellow defends here.