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Old 09-11-2012, 12:20 PM   #1
Mav
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Blizzard Potentially Watching Users via Watermarking Screenshots


Quote:
A few days ago I noticed some weird artifacts covering the screenshots I captured using the WoW game client application. I sharpened the images and found a repeating pattern secretly embedded inside. I posted this information on the OwnedCore forum and after an amazing three-day cooperation marathon, we managed to prove that all our WoW screenshots, since at least 2008, contain a custom watermark. This watermark includes our user IDs, the time the screenshot was captured and the IP address of the server we were on at the time. It can be used to track down activities which are against Blizzard's Terms of Service, like hacking the game or running a private server. The users were never notified by the ToS that this watermarking was going on so, for four years now, we have all been publicly sharing our account and realm information for hackers to decode and exploit. You can find more information on how to access the watermark in the aforementioned forum post which is still quite active.

Sources:

http://www.ownedcore.com/forums/worl...reenshots.html (with more evidence)

http://games.slashdot.org/story/12/0...warcraft-users

Curious to see how Blizzard responds, if anyone can decode the information in a screenshot does it make it easier for people who hack WoW accounts?
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Old 09-11-2012, 12:23 PM   #2
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They need to be sued for this, in a big way.
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Old 09-11-2012, 12:33 PM   #3
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Interesting information here. I do wonder what Blizzard's response (if any) will be.
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Old 09-11-2012, 12:38 PM   #4
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Activision bought them in 2008. Coincidence?

Next logical step: create a tool to replace the watermark data with a custom message for Big Blizzard.
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Old 09-11-2012, 12:39 PM   #5
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Not only that, but apparently they have been charging a monthly access fee! Those fuckers!
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Old 09-11-2012, 12:48 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by ElektroDragon View Post
They need to be sued for this, in a big way.
Sued for what, pray tell? Care to come up with a cause of action?

Gamers are free to leave if they don't like the policies (a valid response), but I don't see anything actionable about this, if the most "private" information in there is your user ID and the Blizzard server IP.
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Old 09-11-2012, 12:49 PM   #7
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Is that if you use their Steam screenshot tool (F12)? or if you use Printscreen as well?

Either way, bad Valve.
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Old 09-11-2012, 12:49 PM   #8
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Doh, why did I think this was Steam, lol. BLIZZARD, okay, that makes more sense.
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Old 09-11-2012, 12:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenapple View Post
Sued for what, pray tell? Care to come up with a cause of action?

Gamers are free to leave if they don't like the policies (a valid response), but I don't see anything actionable about this, if the most "private" information in there is your user ID and the Blizzard server IP.
Yeah, the only people who would really have grounds to sue would be those who had their accounts compromised because of this (i.e. suffered financial damage).

Kind of sleazy though.
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Old 09-11-2012, 01:06 PM   #10
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Every color copy you make also does this.

Im Canon certified.
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Old 09-11-2012, 01:09 PM   #11
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Wonder if this is present in Diablo 3 as well. Blizzard really has become one of the more anti gamer companies selling games out there. I have already said this but Diablo 3 is my last Blizzard game. They have come a long way from loved game house to notorious jackasses.
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Old 09-11-2012, 01:25 PM   #12
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People are over reacting. Color copiers (as rubishfoo pointed out) and laser printers have done stuff like this for years. Every photo you take with your smartphone has data embedded in it (exactly what varies).

Blizzard is a company that offers a service, one that is incredibly expensive to maintain and provide. They make a killer profit, but if things like custom servers ever started to seriously eat into their revenue, something like this could help them identify and stop them. As a business, they have the right to protect their revenue source from people who just don't give a fuck. It this a little sleazy? Probably. It is illegal? No, probably not. Nobody is forcing you to take screenshots (and as the forum thread points out, if you use max quality this watermark isn't embedded) anyway.

Besides, remember all the hooplah that surrounded the "warden" spyware they install on your machine? This isn't exactly revelatory news. And what do you think that WoW launcher is for anyway? It's not really so you can see news posts, it scans your machine before you log into the game.

Long story short, if you're surprised companies do secret things to protect their money makers and don't tell you about it, you haven't been paying attention.
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Old 09-11-2012, 02:47 PM   #13
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"The secret watermark which is being intentionally embedded inside WoW generated screenshots below top quality, DOES NOT CONTAIN the account password, the IP address of the user or any personal information like name/surname etc. It does contain the account ID, a timestamp and the IP address of the current realm."

I don't see a problem with it.
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Old 09-11-2012, 03:21 PM   #14
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They probably started doing this because of people like me. I did a lot of mountain climbing into Hyjal back in the days before it was a playable instance ;P
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Old 09-11-2012, 03:24 PM   #15
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They probably started doing this because of people like me. I did a lot of mountain climbing into Hyjal back in the days before it was a playable instance ;P
Ehhh probably not...
I'm sure they'd be more concerned with actual cheating that blowing time mountain climbing to areas that just gain you a screen shot.
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Old 09-11-2012, 03:42 PM   #16
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Ths issue is that they didnt bother to tell anyone that they were giving their account ID and server in every screenshot they take. Information that can be used to hack an account.
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Old 09-11-2012, 05:20 PM   #17
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Activision bought them in 2008. Coincidence?
You know, Activision exists in name only at this point. Blizzard's parent company (Vivendi) "merged" it's games division, including Blizzard, with Activision. What this really means is Vivendi purchased Activision, and kept the name because it is a better brand than their internal brand was (Vivendi Universal Games). Blizzard's owners didn't change, Activision's did.
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Old 09-11-2012, 05:33 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Ths issue is that they didnt bother to tell anyone that they were giving their account ID and server in every screenshot they take. Information that can be used to hack an account.
Sounds like it cannot actually be used to hack an account. I assume the ID being talked about encoded here is a numerical one, not alphanumeric, thus it could easily be hashed. Guesswork, but just the id and other info is not innately hackable. Even a plaintext ID isn't. Though, I wouldn't want my plaintext ID in public images either >_>
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Old 09-11-2012, 06:11 PM   #19
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Warden is far more intrusive than this. I gotta admit that I love the ingenuity of the Blizz developers. BTW, color copiers do this so that if you copy money and try and use it, they will be able to find you.
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Old 09-11-2012, 06:55 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenapple View Post
Sued for what, pray tell? Care to come up with a cause of action?

Gamers are free to leave if they don't like the policies (a valid response), but I don't see anything actionable about this, if the most "private" information in there is your user ID and the Blizzard server IP.
Really? Lets see. They've made Bliz/battle.net accounts a LOT less secure, all the while SELLING security in the way of key-fobs. If you don't have a security key generator you can't access the RMAH. Seems f-ed up to me. I don't know if theres enough to merit a lawsuit but at the very least by providing additional information to potential would-be hackers all the while selling you additional security, they're scumbags.
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