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Thaldor

Denuvo Anti-Cheat, another new StarForce

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Sources:

https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2020/05/doom-eternal-anti-cheat-kernel-driver-is-safer-than-others-denuvo-says/

 

After very successful launch with (and without) Denuvo DRM Doom Eternal gets its brand new and shiny anti-cheat system made by Denuvo. And the fun part is, just like upcoming Valorant's Vanguard anti-cheat system, Denuvo Anti-Cheat digs into the system like a maggot into a corpse (although Denuvo one runs only while game is running, so it's kind of "better").

Quote

The new Denuvo Anti-Cheat tool rolls out to Doom Eternal players after "countless hours and millions of gameplay sessions" during a two-year early access program, Irdeto said in a blog post announcing its introduction. But unlike Valorant's similar Vanguard system, the Denuvo Anti-Cheat driver "doesn’t have annoying tray icons or splash screens" letting players monitor its use on their system.

So thoughtful of them to not even bother the players with a tray icon, almost as thoughtful as to not bother the players by giving any warning of installing the driver that seems to be quite hard to uninstall (while it should uninstall at the same time as Doom Eternal, you will need to go through couple extra hoops just because the Doom Eternal cannot uninstall the primary exe-file because its dependency on Denuvo Anti-Cheats dll-file which then cannot be deleted because its dependency on Doom Eternals exe-file, reports some users here). Also because the thing runs in ring 0 it does update itself and do whatever it does silently without even Windows knowing what is going on.

Quote

"No monitoring or data collection happens outside of multiplayer matches," Denuvo Anti-Cheat Product Owner Michail Greshishchev told Ars via email. "Denuvo does not attempt to maintain the integrity of the system. It does not block cheats, game mods, or developer tools. Denuvo Anti-Cheat only detects cheats."

Except apparently the game cannot be played even in single player -mode without the anti-cheat system running, updating and stalking in the background. Problem with these ring 0 anti-cheat and DRM systems isn't that they would do something only when certain criteria are fulfilled, it's that they are running in the first place when they are not needed and Denuvo Anti-Cheat doesn't make exception here because it does run always when the game is run, not only when the multiplayer mode of the game is run.

Quote

Greshishchev added that the company's driver has received "certification from renown[ed] kernel security researchers, completed regular whitebox and blackbox audits, and was penetration-tested by independent cheat developers." He said Irdeto is also setting up a bug bounty program to discover any flaws they might have missed.

...

"These same gaming machines already have a sea of subpar (security-wise) administrative services with active Internet connections," he continued. "Drivers from mouse and keyboard vendors, lighting and overclocking services, etc. If attackers really wanted to compromise gamers' machines, they would go through them—not through the world's strongest anti-tamper software."

That sounds nice but can we see those audits somewhere in the public? Probably no because "reasons" and we just need to take their word for that it has been audited correctly and fully and those audits didn't find anything alarming. In second part of the quote, Michail does have a good point except those drivers usually run transparently and have linked services running in user-space which is a lot better for trust than running completely silent beyond any monitoring, also that those vendors aren't known for products that currently are hacked open in days, some even in hours.

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But Greshishchev tells Ars such fear is misplaced. Denuvo Anti-Cheat is "designed to be no different than Nvidia's graphic drivers or Steam's Client Service," he said. "Unlike anti-cheats of the past, there are no filesystem hooks, no requirement to start with the OS, no annoying tray icons or splash screens."

Steam runs in user-space (ring 3) and while GPU drivers run in kernel-space, they are not updating themselves silently in there and they are also made by companies that still have quite a lot trust to loose if their drivers start leaking or are badly made. Also again that "no annoying tray icons [and blah blah blah]", the point of that "annoying" tray icon is that it shows something is running in the background and something is going on which is kind of important when things go south that you can start to diagnose what is going wrong and one software running silently in kernel-mode is kind of big suspect especially when it's made to be as invincible as possible. Also that "annoying" tray icon gives nice information like "Hey! The game might take a bit longer to start because I update myself before letting the game start" or "Hey, it's your friendly anti-cheat here, the game might run a bit slower because I'm doing my thing here in the background, so, nothing to worry about".

 

But the true gold in the article:

Quote

"It's human nature to have a fear of the unknown, and no amount of technical claims by us could address that. Trust is built up over time, and we think that when Denuvo Anti-Cheat bans a player in your favorite game, we will gain your trust."

Nope, you don't get my trust as long as I don't see openly, publicly and easily accessed those audits and a lot more info about that software other than few bullet points about what it does and even if they were to ban every player in the world except me (I don't even own Doom Eternal) it wouldn't build anymore trust. Again, it also doesn't really help building trust when their primary product is constantly cracked open like a it was nothing while probably the same persons market it as "the best product in the world of its kind".

 

Problem with the trust isn't that I wouldn't trust Denuvo or Irdeto about them not collecting my data or having any malicious intends.

What I don't trust is that they have really build bombproof software that some 3rd party couldn't use for malicious things and that some white hat would find their mistakes before black hats. And we have concrete, factual and very real example what can go wrong when wrong people go marching in the kernel-space, StarForce is the example and it wasn't never used as a backdoor into Windows or with any "malicious intent", it just was made so it really messed up Windows and specially the CD-drive drivers. At best you couldn't use your CD-drive ever again to play music CDs independently, quite often some other CD based DRMs refused to work correctly and some CDs just didn't work at all and, not that rare, worst case was that the Windows itself started to go into kernel panics and throw BSODs because StarForce was poking into wrong memory addresses. And the best part of all of that "fun" was that the only way to get rid of it was to reinstall the whole PC and in some late cases get a new CD-drive because StarForce had dug into its firmware also.

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I said this before about something else, but this is truly a product of our time. The usual customers (gamers) are of course the ones not putting up with it like everyone else.

 

They need to understand that the resolution of their concerns about cheating lie with engineering. If you make a protocol that sucks so bad and is exploitable, you can’t cheat your way through using anti-cheat “solutions” like this. You need to go back to the drawing board.


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4 minutes ago, Arika S said:

Denuvo has always been massive cancer

Blame pirates and cheaters. People like to say it only punishes legitimate customers, but Denuvo costs money. Publishers wouldn't pay for it if it didn't return their investment by a large amount.


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2 minutes ago, JoostinOnline said:

Blame pirates and cheaters. People like to say it only punishes legitimate customers, but Denuvo costs money. Publishers wouldn't pay for it if it didn't return their investment by a large amount.

The market works the way it does because it can be stunningly feeble-minded. It doesn’t need to know or care about ethics or engineering.

 

The thing is, the public isn’t dealing with this in the terms of the market. Consumers have an ethical issue, and publishers have an engineering issue. These are the frames at hand here.


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1 minute ago, JoostinOnline said:

Blame pirates. People like to say it only punishes legitimate customers, but Denuvo costs money. Publishers wouldn't pay for it if it didn't return their investment by a large amount.

Denuvo Anti-tamper and Denuvo anti-cheat are separate products.

 

Even the anti-tamper (DRM) doesn't do anything but tank frame rates, because it sure as hell doesn't actually stop pirates

Quote

By 2019, several products like Devil May Cry 5, Metro Exodus, Resident Evil 2, Far Cry New Dawn, Football Manager 2019 and Soul Calibur 6, were cracked within their first week of release, with Ace Combat 7 taking thirteen days. In the case of Rage 2, which was released on Steam as well as Bethesda Softworks' own Bethesda Launcher, the Steam version was protected by Denuvo, where as the Bethesda Launcher version was not, leading to the game being cracked immediately, and Denuvo being removed from the Steam release two days later.

 

No anti cheat software should have the kind of privileges that are now popping up. at least this one only runs at the same time as the game, but if it's digging that deep, it's basically spyware.


Judge the product by it's own merits, not by the Company that created it.

 

 

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45 minutes ago, Arika S said:

Denuvo Anti-tamper and Denuvo anti-cheat are separate products.

 

Even the anti-tamper (DRM) doesn't do anything but tank frame rates, because it sure as hell doesn't actually stop pirates

I almost immediately edited my comment.  I meant to type "pirates and cheaters".

 

If you think it doesn't stop pirates at all, then tell me why developers/publishers purchase it?


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Mmm, intrusive DRM. Remember when it'd only perform cursory checks on the game itself rather than dicking around with your entire system?


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47 minutes ago, JoostinOnline said:

If you think it doesn't stop pirates at all, then tell me why developers/publishers purchase it?

Its not about stopping pirates its about delaying them, giving the publisher sales protection during the most lucrative sales time: the launch and first few months.

 

Examples: 

Resident Evil 3 Remake

UNCRACKED D+42

 

Detroit: Become Human

UNCRACKED D+155

 

Borderlands 3

CRACKED D+47

 

Now its not always the case but if it didn't work at all they wouldn't use it.

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How does Denuvo in DE affect performance? It's been shown in previous games that Denuvo has a very large impact on performance.

 

 

 

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1 minute ago, TrigrH said:

Its not about stopping pirates its about delaying them, giving the publisher sales protection during the most lucrative sales time: the launch and first few months.

Yes, that's exactly my point.  They can't stop them indefinitely, but they can for awhile.   If pirates and cheaters didn't exist, there would be no market for Denuvo products.


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I had played a cracked version of DOOM Eternal, I did not finish it, I was planning on buying it.

 

I now see an actual reason to not buy it. A shame, because I did want to reward ID Software for their excellent work. I don't know who or what decided to staple Denuvo to them, but I know that I will now not be purchasing DOOM Eternal.

 

Sad really. Considering the game is already ****ing cracked, making this essentially pointless.


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Oh great, they became malware.


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3 minutes ago, Trik'Stari said:

I had played a cracked version of DOOM Eternal, I did not finish it, I was planning on buying it.

 

I now see an actual reason to not buy it. A shame, because I did want to reward ID Software for their excellent work. I don't know who or what decided to staple Denuvo to them, but I know that I will now not be purchasing DOOM Eternal.

 

Sad really. Considering the game is already ****ing cracked, making this essentially pointless.

There's still the console versions!

If you... don't mind playing with a controller.


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3 minutes ago, Trik'Stari said:

I had played a cracked version of DOOM Eternal, I did not finish it, I was planning on buying it.

 

I now see an actual reason to not buy it. A shame, because I did want to reward ID Software for their excellent work. I don't know who or what decided to staple Denuvo to them, but I know that I will now not be purchasing DOOM Eternal.

 

Sad really.

id isn't reallly the problem, but the company that bought them is.  Zenimax is kinda forcing bad decisions on them, and it's partly why Carmack left.


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Just now, Nowak said:

There's still the console versions!

If you... don't mind playing with a controller.

I do not own a console, I have no intentions of ever owning one again, regardless of what exclusives come out for them.

 

The only temptation I have towards console is the switch, for Stardew Valley online. The problem there is that I could not load the 30-something mods that I have installed.


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Just now, Trik'Stari said:

I do not own a console, I have no intentions of ever owning one again, regardless of what exclusives come out for them.

 

The only temptation I have towards console is the switch, for Stardew Valley online. The problem there is that I could not load the 30-something mods that I have installed.

So you don't intend to own a console, but you are tempted to get one for Stardew Valley.


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1 minute ago, Nowak said:

So you don't intend to own a console, but you are tempted to get one for Stardew Valley.

Tempted, but it lacks the functionality that I require. I did say "the only temptation".

 

Mainly because I just love that damned game. I play Harvest Moon on the SNES as a child, and Stardew Valley was recommended to me as "that, but more of it" and damn did it deliver. I have over 1200 hours into the game lol.

 

No one is perfect.


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Just now, Trik'Stari said:

Tempted, but it lacks the functionality that I require. I did say "the only temptation".

 

Mainly because I just love that damned game. I play Harvest Moon on the SNES as a child, and Stardew Valley was recommended to me as "that, but more of it" and damn did it deliver. I have over 1200 hours into the game lol.

 

No one is perfect.

Fair! I just mentioned the console version because it's not affected by Denuvo Anti-cheat.


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1 minute ago, Nowak said:

Fair! I just mentioned the console version because it's not affected by Denuvo Anti-cheat.

I'm running a 7700k and overclocked watercooled 1080ti, if Denuvo is causing problems with Stardew Valley.... Well I'm not sure if I would be surprised or just impressed.


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Just now, Trik'Stari said:

I'm running a 7700k and overclocked watercooled 1080ti, if Denuvo is causing problems with Stardew Valley.... Well I'm not sure if I would be surprised or just impressed.

Stardew Valley will run on a literal potato, I wouldn't be worried even if it did have that.

 

(source: I've played it on a ThinkPad T60)


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Why would you put anticheat on a single player focused game?

 

Besides, the game's already cracked, patching the DRM would be too late now.


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i'm hoping someone makes a list of games that use that software so i can stay away from them. 


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3 hours ago, williamcll said:

Why would you put anticheat on a single player focused game?

Because someone is hoping people will focus on the multiplayer instead. Recurring revenue streams and whatnot.

There are very few companies still thinking about making a good game for the player. There are tons of good developers, but the people paying them aren't satisfied with a great game, they're satisfied with a lucrative product.

 

That's why Half-Life: Alyx is such an anomaly.


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I swear if you are going to launch and then use it for like 3 months to try and keep up sales whatever but adding it in when it launched without WTF.

 


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