What types of anti-cheats are there?
There are currently about 400 known anti-cheat programs, but most people have no idea what categories this type of software includes. Let us take a closer look right now!
Anti-cheats can be divided into 3 distinct categories: server-side, client-side, and hybrid type. Let’s start with the very first one.
Server-side anti-cheat software works as a sort of filter. Any developer can make one, as it is just a list of conditions, often multistaged, that is periodically loaded and checked in an attempt to identify a cheater.
Typically launched alongside the game, this type of anti-cheat runs in the background, prohibiting any illegal interactions with the game’s process.
To better understand how this works, think about the ease with which one can gain an advantage in single-player games by utilizing programs such as ArtMoney or Cheat Engine.
Every game contains a myriad of variables, such as health, mana, speed, or money, depending on the specific title’s mechanics.
These values are stored in RAM, which ArtMoney and Cheat Engine attempt to access.
This allows cheaters to straight up edit said values, giving the player an unfair advantage, unintended by the developer. They can even change other stats, such as an in-game object’s movement speed, direction, camera angles, and other random parameters.
A certain level of process security is typically granted by the OS used to run the game, but it is hardly enough. Anti-cheat measures complement this basic protection, effectively denying cheaters access or signaling to the server that something is wrong and that the suspicious user needs to be investigated or banned.
An excellent example of a hybrid anti-cheat would be Valve-developed VAC (Valve Anti-Cheat). An example of hybrid structure and not effectiveness, mind you.
Its multistage data processing method checks the suspicious player’s DNS addresses, theoretically allowing the company to see, which websites said user had previously visited, not that this information brings a lot to the table. Although the system could potentially issue bans if it noticed keywords such as “cheats” or “scripts” when checking an already suspicious account.
In addition, VAC is now a self-learning algorithm that aims to get rid of cheaters, and, in my opinion, it works well enough. Ordinary players help the system learn, allowing it to peer into thousands of replays and reports every day.
As you can see, the 3 types of anti-cheat software are pretty distinct, thus making them more suitable to specific niches in the world of video games!