Friday, July 23, 2010

An Ounce of Prevention

Hi, Kat here!

Recently we had a couple of guildies that got their accounts hacked, items lost, characters deleted and transferred, badges spent and, weirdly enough, moved to remote locations. One guildie, in particular, was the guild leader, which also compromised the guild bank. Fortunately, while a lot of items were removed and supposedly sold, they were also things no one really used or needed, so it was nothing we couldn’t live without for the time being.

One of the more interesting quotes I heard from someone, someone who wasn’t one of the hacked, was “NOW I’m going to get an authenticator”. Why is it that people are so bothered by that tiny little electronic device that they can’t be bothered to get one and apply it BEFORE they need it? It’s like saying, “You’re pregnant? Let’s start using a condom.”

We had another guildie who DID get an authenticator and, even having waited impatiently for it to arrive, didn’t apply it for approximately 3 weeks, because the directions were complicated. I said, really? I think it took me all of 5 minutes to go to the various websites and apply this or that and bam, done. I think what finally worked, talking him into finally doing it, was reminding him that he got a pet for doing it. Same person, let me point out, who went and bought Lil XT the same day it was released. Hey, if it takes a pet for you to help secure your account, so be it.

But why? Why are people like this? People will spend money to move a character from one realm to another before they’ll spend a fraction of that on an authenticator. I’m not saying that having one is going to absolutely totally and completely secure your account from any hacking attempts whatsoever. But it is going to prevent a lot. Condoms aren’t 100% effective but the medical field is never going to say don’t bother using one.

You can tell your friends and family you’re as smart as you want. You can say you don’t go to “phishy” websites and you don’t give out your account information and you are super careful about what you do and you never DL stuff and whatever. The other guildie hacked was the IT manager for his company, who cautions and berates others for not being more careful with their online activities.

It’s true, what they say. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Would $6 have been worth the time, effort, mental peace of mind plus a really cute in game pet that these guys lost? One guildie lost his main, favorite toon – an 80th level hunter – who was transferred off his account and to another server. He also lost all the gear on his raiding healer, and we had a raid that night that we obviously had to cancel. Plus he sat on hold for the Billing department for over an hour. And he was livid. If you ask him now, yes, $6 would have been a very low price to pay to avoid all that. But if you’d have asked him last week, $6 wasn’t worth it when he was saving up for some other, temporary, in game service.

This is a cautionary tale. Will everyone be hacked? No. Does everyone care about their account? I hope so. Do you have to spend real money for account security? No, actually, you really don’t. A lot of people go for years being extremely smart, lucky, or both, and never have an issue. But sometimes luck works against you and everything falls apart in a matter of hours. Whether you choose to spend the money for another layer of protection is up to you, of course, but it really comes down to how much is the cost upfront worth the cost after the fact. Consider not only the initial outlay but also the manpower hours as well as mental tranquility.

Plus, cool in game pet!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dear Blizzard/Activision

You can accomplish accountability by requiring a permanent UNCHANGEABLE alias that you can associate a SINGLE character to without requiring people to use their first and last name. Trolls would still be forced to ALWAYS use the same alias (without creating trial accounts or posting from multiple accounts, which will happen) and nobody will be required to use their first and last name. See? Problem solved. You're welcome.

Edit: Blizzard has announced a reversal of the policy. The link to the source article isn't active but more information is here:

Thank you, Blizard, for listening to your customers.

Edit again: The link to the actual source post: