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Anti-cheat detection in online games

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I'm curious about what methods tools such as VAC and PunkBuster use to detect cheating. From what I've been able to gather they perform actions such as scanning memory and comparing results against a database of known cheats, and detect programs that are hooking onto the game process etc... But do they use any heuristics to detect cheats? I'm wondering how feasible it would be to create an anti-cheat which uses artificial intelligence methods in order to detect cheats such as aimbots and speedhacks in games such as Counter-Strike. I would think that a pattern recognition system could be trained using supervised training to spot cheaters. The benefits of a system like this would be very good. Moderators for games servers are not always around 24/7, so having a system such as this which could be completely server side and can detect cheats similar to how a human does would be beneficial. What are your thoughts on this GameDev.net?

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VAC uses memory scanning + CRC (Detecting known cheats)

Punkbuster has a more "active" approach with heuristics (Only get a kick), screenshots are also a nice functionality.

I am currently developing an Anti-Cheat (Basic, trying to make it hacker proof for at least an hour), for Delta Force Black Hawk Down (Version 1.2 before any of you yell SIGURD!)

HackCam (was being developed) for review of game demo's to detect cheating traits, use google to find about it. There is something on here about it too.

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Server designers are needed to guarantee the security first. At this period, AI may not guarantee it, or it need more resources. Server must have a light, high-performance, secure architecture. AI looks like a smart guy, but some guys can be smarter, how to handle this kind of condition?

Presently Server detect cheating by some simple but secure actions, in my opinion, it needn't any change.

By the way, all I said only fit for C/S which I'm familiar with. As far as P2P or Hybrid, I'm not sure.

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I looked up HackCam and it looked pretty neat featurewise and apparently it worked pretty well too. I can't seem to find any information on what exactly happened to the project other than they signed an NDA with valve quite a while ago. Would be awesome if it was still in development somewhere.

chenmaosheng, I agree that a heuristical approach is more likely to utilise more server resources. I'm not quite sure what you mean about an AI approach not guaranteeing security though. But I think that a heuristical cheat detection system doesn't necessarily need to be on the same machine as the server itself, it could run on a separate machine and observe the game.

I don't believe that heuristical methods will eliminate cheating, but I believe a good implementation (like HackCam looked like it was) then it would reduce the need for client side cheat detection which can't really be trusted.

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