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MRAC -- All you need to know about My.Com Anti-Cheat

Categories: Anti-Cheat

Dear players!

We would like to address your recently expressed concerns about policies on rule violations and in particular -- the cheaters. There have been -- needless to say, false -- rumours and theories that cheaters were if not tolerated, then to the very least ignored or looked over; that reporting was futile.

Be assured that is far from the case. First of all, holds to its strict zero-tolerance policy on cheaters and in this update, we will tell you about our Anti-Cheat system and the team working to create fair, enjoyable and competitive environment for you.

The activity of cheaters in gaming is directly proportional to the success of the gaming community. Just as a community grows large enough and evolves to attract the attention of a broader audience, it catches the eyes of those who want to reach the top, even if it comes to securing an unfair advantage. Thus in a fashion, we feel proud to note we have gotten far with your -- loyal players' -- involvement.

To start with, there are some points that need to be clarified.

There is a popular misconception that malware is created by high school students with little to occupy their free time with, doing it for sport.  On the contrary to that belief, creation and distribution of such malware -- the cheats and hacks -- is unfortunately an own industry, not any less, if not just as advanced as any other segment in the gaming industry.

Originally Warface came equipped with the generic, universal Anti-Cheating tools: StarForce multi-level protection system and the Crytek's very own built-in security software. In early 2015 the problem became apparent enough that called for different measures and a different approach: in this line of work, fighting against malware developers often reminds of an 'arms race'.

One simply cannot 'prohibit cheating' altogether and call it a day at that. There is a wide variety of types of malicious software, each requiring unique approach in terms of detection and apprehension. Thus the beginning of 2015 saw the creation of a new sub-department aimed to deliver timely updates to the security systems specifically designed for the project. Meet MRAC -- Mail.Ru Anti-Cheat (MRAC is a homophone for 'darkness' in Russian, implying 'operating from under the curtain), an adept team with access to crucial tools and data. It enables them to roll out updates frequently enough to suppress any new hacks and cheats.

Now that we are on the same page, let's look into the methods we employ.

The first and most fundamental method is our own automated Anti-Cheat system. Its operation relies on the availability of an up-to-date database of the known malware and thus, means to identify it easily and hand out automated suspensions. In order to maintain it, MRAC composes a so-called library that the system can refer to, developing and optimizing the search algorithms -- enabling the system to suspend the player's account literally seconds after enabling a hack. The ideal outcome is to achieve some sort of 'immunity' against a specific type of malware. In other words, looking at the statistics, one may notice spikes in suspensions being handed out respectively based on specific hacks, however that number cools down towards the end -- that means the system is so efficient that after the initial wave, the cheat becomes obsolete and cheaters simply stop to use it.

Apart from that, the system consistently runs its checks on a variety of stats to scan for drastic or unusual differences. Per se, a player cannot reach a specific checkpoint, a bomb plant site or a flag site prior to a specific time mark, and if they are found capable of doing so, it is highly likely the result was achieved with some sort of a speedhack. Such fluctuations and abnormalities are thoroughly investigated and suspensions swiftly follow in case rule-breaking is confirmed.

One other suppression method necessary to mention is your direct involvement. We as developers and you as our community are on the same side, taking a stance against those who seek to ruin the game. We pay close attention to every report filed by our players both via the in-game system and the Website Support Tickets. While these cases may take extra time compared to an automated suspension by the Anti-Cheat system, they ensure a thorough specialist investigation. These allow us not only to address the particular cheater but to broaden our database and the automated systems. Admittedly, if the player is indeed a cheater, his statistical 'life span' is extended for another game or two as he is allowed to roam free, yet there is no other outcome than an inevitable ban. Moreover, it isn't an action against just a single player -- eliminating them and broadening the database allows us to eliminate hundreds of those that would attempt employing the same cheat in future.

At the point of MRAC's creation in 2015 the amount of accounts suspended for cheating had reached up to one hundred thousand a week. As of current this amount has been brought down to twelve thousand a week. The same is expected on the European and North American Warface servers.

To conclude, we would like to address your questions about the lack of reports on 'timely responsive actions', the statistics brought and so forth -- so to speak, 'Reasonable silence'. As you have understood this stance we take together: with us as developers and you as our loyal players, is a war of influence. The more players find themselves tempted enough to begin using cheats, the more swift and subtle our response has to be to put a complete end to cheating in the game we love. The more updates and stats we release, the more information we give to the distributors of malicious software to roll out something new to temporarily overcome the detection systems; the more time we give them to do it as well.

These developers and distributors care little for the fact a cheater's suspension is inevitable -- one simply cannot consistently get away. Their business is fuelled by players' impatience to get to the top even if it means having an unfair advantage instead of putting their skilltothe test. Only if we stand together, with cooperation via reports, we will be able to prevail and enjoy a cheat-free competitive environment.

What will you choose, a short-lived, fake success or fair, engaging gameplay?

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