Nothingâ??s completely secure, but in a digital, connected world, itâ??s well worth ensuring your content is as protected as possibleâ?¦

Security tools round-up

Every silver lining has a cloud, so with the rise of online games and online distribution, come some nasty problems; notably hacking, cheating and piracy.

In the West, we’re still isolated from the worst of the situation, though.

Russian antivirus company Kaspersky Lab reckons that over 90 percent of trojans targeting online games are written in China and the vast majority of the passwords they steal belong to South Korean gamers, with Lineage being targeted twice as much as World of Warcraft.

That’s one reason that Korean company AhnLab is in the forefront of anti-hacking solutions that can be integrated into online games.

Equally, having emerged from the first person shooter sector, Texan company Even Balance continues to gain support when it comes to non-persistent games with its Punkbuster technology.
However as developers and publishers tend to standardise around digital distribution channels, whether from hardware manufacturers, specialists such as Macrovision and Softwrap or proprietary systems such as Valve’s Steam (which includes its own Valve Anti-Cheat system), the synergies that should be developed by protecting the quality of service, ownership of items and the underlying business of the operators will be increasingly important.

ActiveMARK, SafeDisc Advanced, Hawkeye
Clients: Activision, EA, Just Flight, Microsoft, Take Two, Ubisoft
Host Platforms: Windows
Contact: +44 870 871 1111

Macrovision offers three security technologies. SafeDisc Advanced stops the unauthorised replication and code manipulation of PC games, using Asymmetric Code Blending to mesh game and security code. ActiveMARK provides flexible digital rights management for secure online distribution of games, thanks to integration within Macrovision’s e-commerce system, and Hawkeye uses proprietary protection techniques and footprint masking solutions to reduce the impact of peer-to-peer networks.

Softwrap (GO!, ACTIVE! and LIVE!)
Clients: Atari, EA, Eidos, Funcom, Kuju, Sega
Host Platforms: Windows
Contact: +44 207 089 4111

With a suite of security options from disc-based solutions to flexible digital distribution infrastructure, Softwrap’s technology is built around a strong digital right management system. Softwrap GO! is integrated within several e-commerce transaction platforms, while Softwrap ACTIVE! reduces the piracy associated with physical retail content. Softwrap LIVE! provides a complete digital marketing and distribution channel, using an all-in-one software registration, sales and billing system.

Clients: Available on request
Host Platforms: C++, Java/J2ME, Flash, Python
Contact: +01 202 332 5106

Instead of embedding security features in software, SecurePlay’s security uses a protocol-based approach that works through a set of transaction-based building blocks. These blocks handle networked game events and communications with patented protocols that are accessed using a black box API, which sits beneath game code and above the network and deals with both security and networking features even if the software itself is hacked.

Clients: 2K, Activision, EA, K2, Sierra, Ubisoft
Host Platforms: Windows

One of the original anti-cheat systems, Punkbuster has been used in many first person shooters, starting with Half-Life. Since that standalone release however, it’s increasingly being integrated directly into games, with Crytek and EA’s forthcoming shooter Crysis one of the most recent deals. Client features include real-time memory scanning and a secure auto-update system, while on server-side, it is sent
regular client status reports to check for cheaters.

Clients: Hyosung CTX, JC Entertainment, Yedang Online
Host Platforms: Windows
Contact: +82 2 2186 6000

Considering the dominance both of online games and hacking in Asia, it’s not a surprise that Korean company AhnLab is one of the main anti-hack suppliers. Its HackShield is an intelligent real-time hacking detection and blocking solution. It prevents counterfeiting and modification of program files, screens for memory hacks, prevents runtime modifications and blocks speed-hacks that tamper with system time as well as offering anti-debugging protection.

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