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April 16th, 2008

Leaked EVE Online Code Posted To Torrents

An anonymous hacker claimed last week that the source code for the sci-fi role-playing game “EVE Online” had been leaked and, as proof, posted it to several peer-to-peer services.

The person, who repeatedly criticized the game’s maker CCP during a chat posted online, claimed that software flaws in the program had allowed numerous players to create bots that could automate game play. The hacker offered to help the company close the holes, if they would admit that the code had software vulnerabilities.

The game’s developer, CCP, however, claims that the person likely reverse engineered the code for the game’s client. The client is written in Python, a high-level programming language, which can be easily decompiled into readable code. The possession of the code does not mean that the game’s security can be more easily circumvented, because the developers wrote the client-side code knowing that the software would likely be reverse engineered.

EVE Online maker CCP has not treated the issue lightly. Posting the code, a link to the code, or discussing the issue on the company’s forums has not been tolerated and will likely result in the person being banned from the game, a community manager told forum members. However, there has been no mass bannings from the game, contrary to media reports, the company said in its statement.

The theft of a game’s source code is rare. In 2003, Valve Software acknowledged that someone has stolen the source code for its popular game, Half Life 2. Eight months later, the FBI made several arrests in the case.

Hacking and online gaming seemingly go together, however. Microsoft continues to have problems with account pretexters on its Xbox Live service, and other online games, such as the popular World of Warcraft, have had to deal with the prolific use of bots.

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