Devs reassure players that their Escape from Tarkov accounts are safe.
Hackers are a real problem in online gaming. If they ever get to the account database, millions of players can have their games compromised. Fortunately, if you play EFT, your Tarkov items and progress are safe. Here’s an explanation of why and how things could’ve gone worse for Battlestate Games if the hacker had gone deeper.
A few days ago (depending on your timezone, it coincides with April Fool’s Day), the Escape from Tarkov Launcher had an anomalous alert. It said ‘Hacked by Zelenka Guru Keefga & Zelenka Guru Member 3878653.’
This group runs a service for game hacks and Tarkov account trading. They likely did it to get more clicks or customers on their site. BSG quickly took down the message and assured players it was the only thing affected. Game data and servers were untouched, they said. However, is that all there is?
Hacking a Game Explained
This can be done in two ways.
One, the hacker plays the game. Data that handles the hacker’s playthrough will be created. They find that file and edit it. The next time they play the game, their saved data will reflect those revised values.
Two, the hacker translates the game into its code form and edits it. This needs more technical knowledge about coding, as editing it willy-nilly will break the game.
Now, online games are different. Method one is practically unusable since the player’s saved data is handled on the server, unlike offline games. As for option two, it depends on how much the hacker changed the game’s code. For example, if they changed it enough, the server might not recognize the game and let it connect. At any rate, it works because the server sees that the game is editing data but not the built-in scripts.
Still, the developers usually have security systems that detect these changes and whether a game behaves differently. Even if the hacker succeeds, they can be found and banned eventually.
The ‘cheats’ you find in EFT are client-side programs that fool the server into thinking it’s a legal script. While some data processing happens on the server, most occur on the client’s side. This is easy pickings for the hacker to edit and ‘cheat’ in the game.
So What Happened Here?
The hacker/s used option two and edited the launcher’s script to add the alert. The server accepted this change and applied it to appear in everybody’s launcher. If that’s all they did, then there is nothing to worry about. This kind of thing doesn’t touch the data server.
Going back to the abovementioned methods, you’d have to hack into that server to do the first method since they’re trying to hack a server that requires a different plan of attack. Also, developers are well aware of the dangers of leaving that kind of data unsecured so that any hacker will meet obstructions and roadblocks.
Depending on the tightness of the security and the hacker’s skill, this can take a long time. Besides that, this data would be encrypted, an added layer to the hacker’s efforts to get to the info. However, they’re home-free once they’ve gotten this encrypted information. Decryption is more uncomplicated than getting into the server to retrieve it.
That Means Everything’s Okay, Right?
Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that the hackers didn’t touch anything else but the breaking news in the launcher. The problem is that they somehow slipped by security measures to do this. Some dissidents contest that point despite assurances by the developers and a known content creator. The latter has scanned the affected files and found no piggybacking malware or other unsavory programs.
What else can slip by if someone can do this and succeed? How tight is their security? This stunt might invite other hackers to try getting into the system. Still, as a silver lining, this could expose the vulnerabilities for the devs to patch up.
It is safe enough to continue playing. However, some Tarkov account holders stopped for a few days to see how things played out. Security is no joke when the developers’ integrity and players’ progress are on the line.
It’s up to you whether you want to continue playing or wait out the fallout from this event.
While Waiting, Here Are Some Other Games You Can Play
There are a ton of other shooters you can play if you’re avoiding Escape from Tarkov for now. You can go the battle royale way and play PUBG, Apex Legends, or Fortnite. The Metro series, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise, and The Cycle: Frontier for survival nuts exist. Those who want cooperation can play Valorant and Payday 2.
To broaden your horizons, you can also play any popular MMO, such as World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV. There are more games than shooters, though these have quite a different demographic and gaming perspectives from EFT.