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Report: Valve anti-cheat scans your DNS history


Reefa

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Valve is looking at your browsing history right now, if a recent report is to be believed. It seems that the company's Valve Anti Cheat system (VAC) reportedly looks at all the domains you have visited, and if it finds that you've frequented hack sites, who knows what actions it will take.

Valve-Eye-560x315.jpg

Keeping an eye on things

Every time you visit a website, your PC stores a record in a Domain Name System (DNS) database. This is similar to your browser's cache, but keeps details across everything you use to access the internet - browsers, your email client, messenger programs, Twitter client, even that weather gadget that lives on your desktop.

The thing is, the DNS cache stores details of every site your computer has touched, whether or not you've actively visited it. If an article you are reading links to a blacklisted site, your DNS will record the address of that site, as well as the article. More subtly - if a page you are reading is using a graphic hosted on a blacklisted site, then that blacklisted site will again show up in your DNS. Even if you've never actively visited a cheat website, there may be traces of them in your DNS, and that's what VAC is reportedly now looking for.
The news was first posted to the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Reddit, explaining that VAC now:
Goes through all your DNS Cache entries (ipconfig /displaydns)
Hashes each one with MD5
Reports back to VAC Servers
It is not immediately clear what happens to the MD5 hashed data when it returns to the VAC Servers, but it seems likely that the list is compared against a database of known cheating services or websites.

The new functionality has been slammed by gamers, who claim it is "more like spyware than anti-cheat". Valve has not responded to the allegations, but all Steam users have agreed to abide by specific online conduct and not to use cheats. The company's privacy policy also explains that Valve may collect "personally identifiable information", but promises not to share it with other parties.
VAC bans happen all the time, with more than 60 games using the service. The timing of this allegation is interesting - in recent days there has been a "huge" wave of bans, many affecting zombie survival title Rust, which uses the VAC system.
While it is an interesting anti-cheat approach, it is not infallible. Your local DNS cache is not stored permanently, and can be flushed with a simple command. We have contacted Valve to find out what's going on - but in the meantime, it can't hurt to be careful where you tread online.
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ipconfig /flushdns

:dance: :dance: :dance:

Edited by calguyhunk
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majormalfunction

Yessir, do that right before hitting any of the Valve stuff will stop their snooping. If you happen to run your own local dns server, you can disable "DNS Client" in windows and totally not worry about any caching on your computer for those clowns to snoop through. You could put a batch file on your desktop if you're really really lazy (like me sometimes lol), call it "nuke_my_cache.bat" or whatever. The only thing in it needs to be ipconfig /flushdns Just double click it to clear your cache. Little black dos box will blink for a second, you're done. (Did he just use the word "dos"??!!) :uhuh:

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Small batch created that flushes the dns and boots steam :).

Cheers for the headsup.

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GabeN responds to the VAC updates

http://linustechtips.com/main/topic/117139-our-lord-and-savior-gaben-responds-to-the-vac-updates/

To conclude the article, Gabe answers three questions that everybody is asking.

1) Do we send your browsing history to Valve? No.

2) Do we care what porn sites you visit? Oh, dear god, no. My brain just melted.
3) Is Valve using its market success to go evil? I don't think so, but you have to make the call if we are trustworthy. We try really hard to earn and keep your trust.
Edited by Paft
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Mozilla based browsers (Firefox, Palemoon, IceDragon, Waterfox, etc.) all have their own seperate browser cache, no matter what operating system you use. Every website (and all of the advertisers/trackers on it) that you visit can see that cache if they want to - and They Do. You can disable that cache easily in "about:config" by setting the "network.dnsCacheExpiration" value to 0 (zero). This has caused no problem or slow-down on my computers or any others that I know of (any difference in speed would be measured in milliseconds). The browser will then begin using your operating system cache as stated in the article above. You can flush your DNS cache with the elevated command prompt (ipconfig /flush) as suggested by calguyhunk, or with CCleaner after you close you browser. I just turn the Windows DNS Client off completely in services.msc - just double click it and change startup Type to "Disabled" - as far as I know, it is only needed by certain network setups . It causes no perceptible change in web browsing/site loading speed.

Edited by bsvols
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