Friday, April 10, 2009

Account Security

Last night while preparing for our Heroic Nax run a disturbing conversation took place. "Dar, I think one of our member's accounts got hacked."

This isn't the first time a conversation like this has taken place. Most famously for our guild at least was the time when MY OWN account was hacked and I lost EVERYTHING. All but my three level 70 toons were deleted and all their gear vendored. This included three guild bank toons. We recovered and I learned a great deal about how Blizzard handles the Account Compromise situations and what I could do as a Guild Master and Friend. Thankfully in that situation I was able to get MOST of my gear back at least on Daraia (who really mattered to me at least) but four 32 slot bags worth of Primals and enchanting supplies? yeah...those were gone for good. Ouch. As one guild member put it "You just financed a Big screen TV and rent for 3 months." sigh...

So Mid Nax run I was talking to a GM reporting the account compromise while handling the Horseman Loot (thankfully the timing was excellent on that and everyone very understanding.) But it got me to thinking again about good ole account Compromises and what you as a World of War Craft Player can do or should know about them.

So what can you do to protect yourself?

1. Don't share your account information.
It seems pretty simple but most people who get "hacked" have it done by so called "friends". This is especially true of younger players. Also the good ole "No Blizzard Employee will ever ask for your Account password" etc. If the only person who has your account name and pass word is YOU the less likelihood you have of getting hacked.

2. Regularly run Spy and Virus detection software. I do it daily. In my case I was hacked by a bombardment hack but most frequently you hear of "key loggers" This is how THEY get in. Spy and Virus software helps prevent THESE types of hacks.

3. Change your password OFTEN.
Personally I like the 3 month rule and use letters, numbers and characters like #@ or $ in your password. Still make it easy to remember but simple things like this add to security.

4. Don't share computers.
This is not an option for everyone but it another way you can protect yourself. If you don't SHARE a computer you are less likely to have nasty stuff show up on it.

5. Put yourself on Parental control.
Huh? Yeah, If there are times you NEVER play WoW, Say 3 am til 6 am Monday through Friday, set parental controls so that NO ONE can access your account during those times. 3am-6am are the MOST active time for hackers because those are the LEAST active times for the average player.

I am not one for pushing a product but this is the BEST investment in security and peace of mind you can make. For little more than you would pay for a Graude Coffee your worries about hacking literally DISAPPEAR.

If however like myself and many others you DO fall victim to a hacker. What can you do? As my guildy said "Well Blizzard is closed for the night I can't do anything." WRONG! YOU CAN!

1. Get on and go to "Account Management" Log on and you can change your password.

2. If you get on and discover that (as has happened with some individuals) the hacker has already CHANGED your password, you can contact Blizzard or have a FRIEND (like your friendly neighborhood Guild Master) report the issue to a GM as a Account Compromise. You can also contact Blizzard at Once you do this you should get an e-mail from Blizzards investigations department regarding the account.

Now all this is ASSUMING you owned the account from the beginning. If you purchased it on line or got it from a Friend so you don't have access to the start up information you may find your self out of luck and have to start all over again from ground zero. But from my personal experience if you are persistent and stick it out a LOT of what gets lost CAN be restored after a hack.

So now I will be helping yet another guildy along that road of recovery. Hopefully I can help others keep from having to walk the road at all. I do want to clarify this is a VERY simplistic guide. There are a LOT of things I left out. It is a "Cliff Notes" if you will. But they are all good things to keep in mind and I hope helpful to you all.

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