Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

M$ Battles Halo 2 Holes

Filed under
Microsoft
Security
Gaming

Microsoft is once again locked in a battle of wills with hackers determined to find and exploit security holes in the company's software. But this time the buggy code isn't endangering users' PCs -- just their otherworldly alien fortresses.

The vulnerabilities are in Microsoft's enormously popular Xbox game Halo 2. Last month, the company's Bungie Studios games division pushed out a 2-MB software patch for the sci-fi shooter in response to months of complaints from Xbox Live gamers about "glitchers" who'd learned to exploit programming errors in the game to their advantage in competitive play. The phenomenon launched cheaters to high positions in the Halo 2 global leader board, where players are ranked like chess masters according to their online wins and losses.

The most severe of the holes was a meta-bug triggered when black hats interfered with their cable modem links, buying them up to eight seconds of invisible movement while the game server struggled to reconnect -- just the ticket to sneak into the enemy's fort and steal their colors in a hotly contested capture-the-flag game. Other glitches were errors in the game's physics engine that gave practiced players Neo-like mastery of the Halo 2 multiverse: the power to fly through the air, grab objects through solid walls or create a tactically useful double of their avatar.

"You have a huge number of people intentionally trying to find stuff to essentially break, or mess around with, the game," said Halo expert Jeremy Hunt. "Trying to make a game work with that kind of crowd is pretty tough."

The bugs have been a chink in the armor of the otherwise bulletproof Halo franchise. The original Halo was the flagship title for the Xbox, and Halo 2, released last November, sold 6.4 million copies in its first three months on the market. The game's vigorous online component helped boost Xbox Live's user base to 1.4 million players in January. A Halo movie is now reportedly in the works, and rumors abound that a next-generation Halo update is planned as a launch title for the upcoming Xbox 360 console.

Microsoft responded to the glitches quickly and characteristically: In mid-January, the company launched a ruthless wave of anti-hacking enforcement that's seen, by Microsoft's count, thousands of players banned from online play for allegedly exploiting the vulnerabilities. Some gamers are complaining in message forums that they were targeted unjustly, but they have no recourse under Xbox Live's terms-of-service agreement, which lets the company exile anyone for any reason.

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

When A Computer Is Ready for the Junk Pile

HBO//Devious Maids S04E01 Online 2016. HBO//Pretty Little Liars S7 E2 Online 2016.

Windows 'Upgrade'

  • When A Computer Is Ready for the Junk Pile
    To that point, there was a report that a mail server failure in a large business office remained a mystery for two days until someone found an old Pentium II back in the corner of some obscure closet with a burned out power supply. It is reported that the Slackware/Debian/Red Hat machine had been plugging away as a mail server for a number of years, completely unattended. That’s feasible I suppose, but I further suppose that it’s a modern day parable about how open source can indeed, carry the day.
  • Microsoft draws flak for pushing Windows 10 on PC users
    With about a month left for many PC users to upgrade to Windows 10 at no charge, Microsoft is being criticized for its aggressive — some say too aggressive — campaign to get people to install the new operating system.
  • Microsoft forks out thousands over forced Windows 10 upgrade
    Microsoft has had to pay a Windows user in California US$10,000 over a forced upgrade to Windows 10, according to a report in the Seattle Times. The user, Teri Goldstein, runs a travel agency in Sausalito, a San Francisco Bay Area city in Marin County, California.
  • A lawsuit over an unwanted Windows 10 upgrade just cost Microsoft $10,000
    Microsoft recently paid a (very small) price for its Windows 10 upgrade tactics, and that was before they became increasingly aggressive.
  • Updategate: California woman awarded $10,000 for borked Windows 10 upgrade
    A CALIFORNIA woman has set a precedent after a court ruled that she was entitled to damages over the installation of Windows 10 on her machine. Teri Goldstein, a travel agent, testified that the new operating system had auto-downloaded, started to install, failed, and left her Windows 7 computer running painfully slowly and often unusable for days. "I had never heard of Windows 10," Goldstein told reporters. "Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to update."
  • Microsoft pays out $10,000 for automatic Windows 10 installation
    Company withdraws appeal leaving it liable for $10,000 compensation judgment after botched automatic upgrade of travel agent’s computer
  • Microsoft Pays Woman $10,000 Over Its Forced Windows 10 Upgrade
    As a result of a legal suit, Microsoft has paid a woman $10,000 over the forced Windows 10 upgrade.
  • 'I urge everyone to fight back' – woman wins $10k from Microsoft over Windows 10 misery
    A California woman has won $10,000 from Microsoft after a sneaky Windows 10 update wrecked the computer she used to run her business. Now she's urging everyone to follow suit and "fight back." Teri Goldstein – who manages a travel agency in Sausalito, just north of San Francisco – told The Register she landed the compensation by taking Microsoft to a small claims court. Rather than pursue a regular lawsuit, she chose the smaller court because it was better suited to sorting out consumer complaints. Crucially, it meant Microsoft couldn't send one of its top-gun lawyers – or any lawyer in fact: small claims courts are informal and attorneys are generally not allowed. Instead, Redmond-based Microsoft had to send a consumer complaints rep to argue its case.

Canonical Releases New Kernel Update for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

We reported the other day that Canonical released a major kernel update for its Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system, and it appears that it also affected users of the Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf) distribution. Read more

This programmable, open source outlet can do things that off-the-shelf smart plugs can't

Excited by the idea of an open-source, Arduino-based outlet, capable of remotely controlling your various household devices? If so, you’ll definitely want to check out the Portlet: a versatile portmanteau of “portable” and “outlet,” which — despite only consisting of 4 buttons and a simple 2×15 character LCD screen — can be programmed to do everything from switching your lights on at a certain time to keeping your coffee heated at the perfect temperature. Read more