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MMO Terrorism

TerranahTerranah Stockton, CAMember Posts: 3,574 Uncommon

I was just thinking of crazy what if scenarios, and I started thinking.  What if some crazy intern or disgruntled employee decided to impose the ultimate act of cyber terror...what if they deleted your mmo from the actual corporate servers.  Are there safeguards to prevent this?

 

Could such a thing even happen?

 

What started me down this bumpy, uneven dirt road of idle speculation was SWG.  According to Sony, the Precu version was deleted, hence it was physically impossible to offer the previous game's version.  Of course now, years later, that is water under the bridge and even if such a copy existed, I doubt it would be viable...but maybe.

 

But could one person take down an entire mmo?  Is it possible? 

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Comments

  • BadSpockBadSpock Somewhere, MIMember Posts: 7,974

    If they don't have competent IT that is providing them comprehensive and cohesive backup and recovery strategies, they need to give me a call...

     

  • SnarlingWolfSnarlingWolf Thereiam, ARMember Posts: 2,697

    No not really, one person couldn't do it.

     

    First there are safeguards to set the permissions any given person has to files on a large project of any kind. An intern likely wouldn't have the ability to delete anything and might not even have the ability to change anything.

    Second there are backups. So even if someone somehow got into the servers, shut down the game (yet no one noticed) and began deleting everything. Their are database and game file backups (not to mention all the work space game files so they could rebuild the game even if they for some reason had no back up.

     

    I wouldn't believe that the precu version was deleted. Companies always keep backups. By saying that they probably were hoping to make people just stop asking instead of saying "The policy is not to go back to a precu state". As an example, I think Turbine once said that the AC2 files didn't exist anymore so they couldn't bring it back. It is back up now.

  • DatawarlockDatawarlock Eden Prairie, MNMember Posts: 338
    If anyone ever does figure out a way to pull this off, I'll get you an application for Blizzard >.>
  • BadSpockBadSpock Somewhere, MIMember Posts: 7,974

    If the highly disgruntled employee has access to the backups AND the live servers, yes, one person could completely shut down a game - but only if another employee didn't notice or notice fast enough.

    They might be able to delete the backups without triggering any alarms, but if they started shutting down and deleting live servers and data, if their colleagues were fast enough they could figure out what was going on and stop the process.

    It'd be a life ending move, however, as the employer would certainly prosecute to the full extent of the law and every single penny of the employees assets would be seized due to reparations for the financial damage to the company.

    It's not just an "F-U employer!" move, it's a "I'm going to jail for the rest of my life and my family is going to live in a cardboard box on the street" move.

    This would have to be a VERY high level IT employee though. The development teams probably don't get direct access to the backups.

  • RaunuRaunu Lewisburg, PAMember Posts: 483

    It would take someone pretty high up in the company to pull that off. They need access to not only delete the files on the servers, but the backups as well. I think it's also important to note that there are almost always more than 1 backup of a big project like a MMO, and they are usually stored off site, and there is usually one backup stored on something not connected to the internet.

    Rest assured, I doubt that anyone will ever pull off such a stunt. Even if they did, they would end up in jail for many years.

     

    There are many, laws that doing this would break. Theft, cyber crimes, corporate espionage among others. You might get more time behind bars doing this than if you killed someone.

    - - "What if the hokey pokey really is what it's all about?" - -

  • SnarlingWolfSnarlingWolf Thereiam, ARMember Posts: 2,697

    Besides, an easier task would be to just release the full entire game files (source, assets, etc.) out onto the internet and would allow many other people to cause constant problems to the game.

     

    Most companies have revision controls in place as well as monitoring of who is copying what, looking at what etc. Several even have a no USB/external storage devices allowed to be attached to any machines.

     

    In this day and age companies tend to have a lot of safeguards to just about everything, including disgruntled employees.

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAMember Posts: 26,690 Rare

    It is probably not impossible for some hackers to write some clever code to corrupt the DB until it is too late though.

    You don't need to delete everything (which is close to impossible) to sabotage a MMO.

    If you introduce enough incremental "corruption" (i.e. randomly take away an item here and there, randomly change a stat) .. and if the changes are not detected fast enough and make it into the backups .. then you can "destroy" the world.

    If you affect a large number of players, and it goes on for long enough so that it is impossible to roll back, everyone will just leave.

     

  • SnarlingWolfSnarlingWolf Thereiam, ARMember Posts: 2,697
    Originally posted by nariusseldon
    It is probably not impossible for some hackers to write some clever code to corrupt the DB until it is too late though. You don't need to delete everything (which is close to impossible) to sabotage a MMO. If you introduce enough incremental "corruption" (i.e. randomly take away an item here and there, randomly change a stat) .. and if the changes are not detected fast enough and make it into the backups .. then you can "destroy" the world. If you affect a large number of players, and it goes on for long enough so that it is impossible to roll back, everyone will just leave.  

     Backups aren't a one time thing. No matter when you put in something malicious, there is a backup to very shortly before that which they can use to do a perfect restore. Detection times for things that secretly monitor can be long. Detection times for things that actually change databases is generally very fast.

  • RaunuRaunu Lewisburg, PAMember Posts: 483
    [mod edit]

    Let's steer clear of the violent ways to get this done shall we? Those things would hurt people, not just destroy the game. And hurting people isn't what this topic is about.

    - - "What if the hokey pokey really is what it's all about?" - -

  • znaiikaznaiika denver, PAMember Posts: 203
    I think it can be done by only one person, clever person.
  • RasputinRasputin gnaf, AKMember Posts: 602 Uncommon

    UO said the exact same thing: It was impossible to create a server with  the old version, because it was lost.

    It is not true. It is just a very convenient way to close any further discussion. Obviously they are not interested.

  • ArclanArclan Chicago, ILMember Posts: 1,528 Uncommon


    Originally posted by Terranah
    ...According to Sony, the Precu version was deleted, hence it was physically impossible to offer the previous game's version. ...

    Not to derail, but unless I'm mistaken, new info came out that showed that the original SWG version was developed in parallel to the CU (or NGE?) version for six weeks after it went live.

    Luckily, i don't need you to like me to enjoy video games. -nariusseldon.
    In F2P I think it's more a case of the game's trying to play the player's. -laserit

  • kragekrage Miami, FLMember Posts: 422 Uncommon

    Lol this is sorta relevant info but not a defiant employee act, more like stupidity. The MMO M2 was deleted by accident, not a copy, or backup, all of it. I can only imagine the panic from the employees.

    http://kotaku.com/5859963/an-entire-mmo-was-accidentally-erased-from-the-internet

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  • DakeruDakeru Member Posts: 2,457 Rare

    It should be possible. I forgot the name but remember there was an asian mmo that got deleted over night.

    What had happened? A company was supposed to update the servers or something and accidently deleted the game.

    There was no backup so it was game over.

    If plain stupidity can kill a game this easily then yes I believe an angry worker with malicious intentions would be able to kill a game.

     

    *edit*

    Poster above me beat me to it.

  • BarrikorBarrikor Phoenix, AZMember Posts: 330 Uncommon

    And that's why you keep an extra backup of the source code in a bank vault...

  • JemcrystalJemcrystal Champaign, ILMember Posts: 1,640 Uncommon
    Yeah, I was in a game once where the forum moderator had enough sway to IP block me from the game itself.  Not delete you.  There's no need.  Just one simple IP block and you are gone gone gone from the game.
  • jesadjesad Member Posts: 869 Uncommon

    I think that any company that existed beyond the year 2000 and claims to have lost anything due to deletion is so full of Shenanigans that they should be penalized for thinking that you, the players, are that dumb.

    1st.  As noted in other posts in this string already.  Most companies perform regular backups, but not just one backup that overwrites the previous one but daily, weekly, and monthly backups the largest of those that are held on file and generally offsite for protection against theft, fire, or other kinds of destruction.  With this in mind, sure, you could delete the backups on the server or on the tapes, but you would have to get the service or department responsible for the weekly or monthly to not only delete the last week and/or month, but the previous week and/or month as well.

    Data security guys do not mess around.  It's all they do so they have to be dependable.

    2nd. The Y2K bug was a real concern going into the turn of the century, so yeah, pre Y2K I might understand a thing like that happening, but post Y2K?  Forgetaboutit!!  EVERYONE used backup services post Y2K.  In fact, I would say that data security probably boomed more in the first couple of years of this century than ever before or ever since.

    With these two things being true, I think that the only way an entire piece of intellectual property could get deleted would be by executive order (meaning the CEO would have to send that down the pipe), and even then it probably wouldn't be his sole decision in a company that is run by shareholders.  Stuff like this is not a giant deal but it is bigger than the fantasy of one disgruntled employee for sure.  And I agree with the guy who said that those companies who claimed this as a reason for not reverting back to previous iterations of certain products were just shutting down any further conversation about it.

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  • jesadjesad Member Posts: 869 Uncommon
    Originally posted by Barrikor
    And that's why you keep an extra backup of the source code in a bank vault...

    And then there's that as well.

    image
  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAMember Posts: 14,247 Rare
    Originally posted by BadSpock
    If they don't have competent IT that is providing them comprehensive and cohesive backup and recovery strategies, they need to give me a call...

    This ---^

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • GrahorGrahor aaaMember Posts: 828

    Programming 101: you keep daily automatic backups for a week or two, on multiple servers; you keep weekly backups for couple of months; you keep monthly backups forever.

     

    It's pretty easy and cheap to setup, even independent backups by a number of administrators.

     

    The Big Boss, in such case, may order everything deleted, but short of this, it's nearly impossible to delete the whole game.

     

    Anyone claiming "the old version was deleted" is so full of cr@p he can be used as human fertilizer device to turn desert into a garden.

     

    P.S. Company stuffed by complete and utter morons from top to bottom can lose the data; it's not a rare occurence. Still, such a company usually folds long before MMO deployment.

  • craftseekercraftseeker kynetonMember Posts: 1,280 Uncommon
    Originally posted by Raunu
    It would take someone pretty high up in the company to pull that off. They need access to not only delete the files on the servers, but the backups as well. I think it's also important to note that there are almost always more than 1 backup of a big project like a MMO, and they are usually stored off site, and there is usually one backup stored on something not connected to the internet. Rest assured, I doubt that anyone will ever pull off such a stunt. Even if they did, they would end up in jail for many years. There are many, laws that doing this would break. Theft, cyber crimes, corporate espionage among others. You might get more time behind bars doing this than if you killed someone.

    Actually it would take someone relatively low level on the hardware side.  Deliberately compromising the backups as they are made and before they are sent off site, deleting the entire system by re-partioning disk arrays.  A whole lot of things would need to be done and could by a relatively low-level hardware specialist. 

    This has been done in the past to my knowledge, perhaps not in a game development environment but in SME business environments and at least two software development houses.

    Also the legal position is somewhat less clear cut than you said.

  • jesadjesad Member Posts: 869 Uncommon
    Originally posted by craftseeker
    Originally posted by Raunu
    It would take someone pretty high up in the company to pull that off. They need access to not only delete the files on the servers, but the backups as well. I think it's also important to note that there are almost always more than 1 backup of a big project like a MMO, and they are usually stored off site, and there is usually one backup stored on something not connected to the internet. Rest assured, I doubt that anyone will ever pull off such a stunt. Even if they did, they would end up in jail for many years. There are many, laws that doing this would break. Theft, cyber crimes, corporate espionage among others. You might get more time behind bars doing this than if you killed someone.

    Actually it would take someone relatively low level on the hardware side.  Deliberately compromising the backups as they are made and before they are sent off site, deleting the entire system by re-partioning disk arrays.  A whole lot of things would need to be done and could by a relatively low-level hardware specialist. 

    This has been done in the past to my knowledge, perhaps not in a game development environment but in SME business environments and at least two software development houses.

    Also the legal position is somewhat less clear cut than you said.

    Ok, I am not an authority on the programming that goes into it all, but isn't there an integrity check done by the backup program everytime you back something up?  You know, that thing that remembers where to start the next backup and tells you if you have the right backup tape/cd/etc... in?  How could you compromise that more than once without being found out?  I'm really asking.  Not cause I want to do it of course, but because I want to know what you know :)

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  • yggdrasil1yggdrasil1 AalstMember Posts: 13 Uncommon

    Actually, I've worked in various companies as a Systems Administrator/ Systems engineer, and I've almost always been in a position to destroy/delete copious  amounts of data. The persons maintaning the systems are often the same as those performing the backups, as well as handling any kind of monitoring systems. On top of that, I always have full physical access to the servers and datacenters, which means console root access to databases and storage.

    However, as stated before, whilst I 'could' do this, it would also be easily traceable to me. So this is a once in a lifetime move, followed by jail, endless debt for my childrens grandchildren and so on...in short, you're gonna have a bad time; the trick would never be deleting stuff for people in my position, but getting away with it would be neigh impossible :)

    Just my two cents...

     

     

  • jesadjesad Member Posts: 869 Uncommon
    Originally posted by yggdrasil1
    ...in short, you're gonna have a bad time;
     

    Really did make me laugh out loud. :)

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  • rojoArcueidrojoArcueid GinnungagapMember Posts: 8,050 Rare
    Originally posted by Terranah
    I was just thinking of crazy what if scenarios, and I started thinking.  What if some crazy intern or disgruntled employee decided to impose the ultimate act of cyber terror...what if they deleted your mmo from the actual corporate servers.  Are there safeguards to prevent this?   Could such a thing even happen?   What started me down this bumpy, uneven dirt road of idle speculation was SWG.  According to Sony, the Precu version was deleted, hence it was physically impossible to offer the previous game's version.  Of course now, years later, that is water under the bridge and even if such a copy existed, I doubt it would be viable...but maybe.   But could one person take down an entire mmo?  Is it possible? 

    this happened already. It was "an accident" according the company who did it.

    I could be wrong but I dare say they planned on shutting the game down before the accident but didnt want to go through the PR hassle so instead they went all "oops" on everyone.

    http://massively.joystiq.com/2011/11/15/hangame-mmo-accidentally-deleted-shut-down-forever/

    but those are just my thoughts.

    edited typo

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