“If ‘Valve is evil – look they are tracking all of the websites you visit’ is an idea that gets traction, then that is to the benefit of cheaters and cheat creators,” says Newell.
Earlier in the week, the folks over at the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive subreddit discovered some potentially disturbing information about Valve’s anti-cheat system, VAC. Specifically, a new module for the system can read all the web domains you have visited while it is running, and send that information back to Valve’s servers. Basically, people were concerned that Valve was checking out what porn sites they’d been looking at.
Now, Valve-boss-that-is-not-really-Valve-boss Gabe Newell has weighed in on the matter, assuring fans that no, Valve is not looking at your porn, and offered a rare insight into how VAC works in an attempt to regain our trust.
“Do we send your browsing history to Valve? No. Do we care what porn sites you visit? Oh, dear god, no. My brain just melted.”
First, he explained the reasoning for the new VAC protocol. “Cheat developers have a problem in getting cheaters to actually pay them for all the obvious reasons, so they start creating DRM and anti-cheat code for their cheats. These cheats phone home to a DRM server that confirms that a cheater has actually paid to use the cheat.” So, VAC needed to be able to look for the DRM servers in the DNS cache in order to find these cheats.
Second, he said that this protocol isn’t actually in use anymore. Whenever VAC makes a new protocol, it’s basically an “arms-race” for the cheaters to try and circumvent it, which is why Valve is so secretive about how VAC works in the first place. Newell says that the cheat providers have already worked around this particular protocol by manipulating the DNS cache of their customers’ client machines.
Lastly, Newell urges us to put our trust in Valve, as if people start to get the wrong idea about the company, the only ones who will benefit are the cheat creators. “If ‘Valve is evil – look they are tracking all of the websites you visit’ is an idea that gets traction, then that is to the benefit of cheaters and cheat creators,” he says.
“We try really hard to earn and keep your trust.”
So what do you say, do you trust Valve to scour through your DNS cache, and not out you to your friends for looking at weird porn?