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Old 12-12-2017   #1
Victor Sthang
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Default Sonic Gather Battle being a malware

So, if you've entered reddit or some other sonic related sites recently, you may have heard that Sonic Gather Battle, that is a kind of cool fan game, was exposed as a malware/trojan for having shady stuff and a DRM hidden inside of the game, that was in fact, kinda creepy as also intrusive, because it uploaded your ip and your data to the developer.

Do you have any opinion about this event?
I'd like to hear it.
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Old 12-13-2017   #2
CobaltBW
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I don't really follow this sort of thing anymore, but upon hearing the topic I was immediately reminded of the keylogger scare regarding Sonic 2 HD before its reboot. In the case of the earlier incident, it turned out the game was just sloppily coded to read user inputs while the game window was closed -- classification-wise, it wasn't a form of malware since no data was actually being sent anywhere, per the original claim. The game also had what could be considered a rudimentary form of "DRM", where the program would lock up if it detected external influence to the game's operations during runtime (e.g. CheatEngine) or if one of the files had been tampered with.

But I decided to look this up and see what it was all about, and in this case the situation seems to be more clear-cut.

Here is some general context. TL;DW: The fangame uses an implicit DRM system which illegally reads and tampers with computer browser and program activities to prevent modification of the game itself. The strategies it uses require the kind of privileges and user data access that malware, ransomware, and keyloggers would abuse in order to hijack computers and steal personal and financial information.

It isn't entirely clear whether this was the intention of the game's programming. I have seen no evidence thus far of anyone's personal data beyond perhaps IP address and specs being collected, and considering the game's response to certain programs being loaded during runtime, it's certainly within the realm of possibilities that the author was careless enough to implement this strictly with anti-tamper intentions in mind. However, the way in which the author has chosen to do this requires far too much access to the user's data and deliberately obstructs program activity unrelated to the game itself, whereas a simple anti-hack game lock screen would have been enough to get the job done. At best, the system is reckless, unlawful, and unethical; at worst, it could potentially be collecting data maliciously with the intent of theft.



Although I've been mostly apathetic on the issue of the DRM (erring on the side of "yeah, DRM's bullshit"), cases like this drive the point home that DRM can almost be considered a form of commercially-distributed computer virus. If not virus specifically.... maybe we could classify it as a computer fungus, I dunno. While I doubt a commercial game product would ever do something this extreme, there have been tons of reports on games with specific DRM software causing computer problems, some of those reports even suggesting that permanent computer damage was inflicted. It does raise the question as to where one draws the line between legitimate digital protection and abusive overreach.
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Old 12-13-2017   #3
RomioTheBadass
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Funny to think he did this just because he didn't want people to steal sprites that aren't even his own, what a dick move.
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Old 12-13-2017   #4
CobaltBW
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Originally Posted by RomioTheBadass View Post
Funny to think he did this just because he didn't want people to steal sprites that aren't even his own, what a dick move.
On one hand, I expected that it was probably something as petty as this. On the other, this is still the kind of excuse someone could use just to try and get access personal data.
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Old 12-13-2017   #5
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It's an excuse if someone who was a malware creator by trade decided to get his stuff onto as many systems as possible through willing action. Weirdly enough, though, it appears to be that the guy did it the other way round.

They have a history with taking down downloads for their game whenever sprites end up being distributed, and people who have been involved with development said he really ratcheted things up recently as a direct response to some flaunting - so all signs point to a narcissistic fangame creator who learned how to make malware out of pettiness.
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Old 12-14-2017   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toaster View Post
They have a history with taking down downloads for their game whenever sprites end up being distributed, and people who have been involved with development said he really ratcheted things up recently as a direct response to some flaunting - so all signs point to a narcissistic fangame creator who learned how to make malware out of pettiness.
This was pretty much my initial suspicion. If it were any other subject I would have called bullshit, but this is the kind of mental gymnastics I've been conditioned to expect from the broader Sonic community.
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Old 12-14-2017   #7
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Basically I assume it's just a complete moron being a complete moron, but because of what it's doing we all need to treat it like it's actively malicious, because it's impossible to really know at this point.
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Old 04-05-2018   #8
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It's petty, criminal and the narcissist needs to at least sit in a prison for a while for that.

Probably the only reason he's getting away with it is because of China's reluctance to allow authorities from the western countries and Japan to act. Lucky moron. He's probably using the knowledge he gained to infest the internet more with other malware/DRM next.
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Old 04-06-2018   #9
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Pretty sure everything settled down after everyone in the whole fan-game community spread the word around as well as snipping any download links associated with it on their sites.
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Old 04-07-2018   #10
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Yeah, this forum was honestly the only way I knew this game even existed. Literally hasn't shown up anywhere since.
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