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Game Publishers Using Stealth P2P Clients

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the eula-doesn't-count dept.

Networking 149

An anonymous reader writes "TorrentFreak has shed some light on the dark practice of installing stealth-mode P2P clients during game downloads and using unsuspecting gamers' PCs as 'bandwidth slaves.' The clients operate in the background and largely go unnoticed until problems arise that are caused by overactive uploading/seeding. While the Akamai NetSession Interface and Pando Media Booster are specifically called out, there appear to be other offenders as indicated in the comments left by TorrentFreak readers. A publisher called Solid State Networks is putting out a call for an industry-wide 'best practices' effort to promote transparency, control and privacy on behalf of gamers who are otherwise being abused for their bandwidth without their consent."

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I can haz? (5, Funny)

KillaGouge (973562) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470526)

Hai, I'm in your services stealing your bandwidths?

FAKE! (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470558)

Despite the clever use of the misspelling "Hai", your grammar is obviously much too polished. You, sir, are no LOLcat. Buy your own damned cheeseburger.

Re:FAKE! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33470692)

Yehbutt he has 720 times more feedback points than you, so he wins. Sorry newbie.

Re:FAKE! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33470722)

I don't think those numbers mean what you think they mean...

Re:FAKE! (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471966)

omfg he just insulted a 4-digit UID!! may divine justice rain upon him in the form of embarrassing captions on all his facebook photos!

Re:FAKE! (2, Insightful)

Christof_Deluca (870653) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470940)

LOL

Re:FAKE! (1, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472448)

Who let their cat moderate this guy offtopic? Look, we know you furry fuckers don't like being laughed at, but if you weren't so goddamn illiterate, we wouldn't do it. Except when you fall off shit and pretend like it didn't happen. Yeah, we saw that. That's why we're laughing.

Re:FAKE! (2, Insightful)

Christof_Deluca (870653) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472634)

*bows to your superior UID*

No way, KillaGouge FAIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33472420)

Cats don't use apostrophes on purpose.

Re:FAKE! (1)

sp332 (781207) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472490)

Re:I can haz? (2, Interesting)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470668)

Hai, I'm in your services stealing your bandwidths?

Seems that if bandwidth is truly a priority you're likely on a capped plan and likely already have the tools [yahoo.com] or software [google.com] to see what's using what.

'bout time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33470534)

I wouldn't have a problem with this stuff if they didn't dumb it down to oblivion. If you're going to be having us as a torrent peer, we need to be able to CONFIGURE IT.

Thanks.

Re:'bout time (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470728)

You can.

Pull plug out of ethernet jack.
Put plug into ethernet jack.

What more do you want? :P

Re:'bout time (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471046)

You can. Pull plug out of ethernet jack. Put plug into ethernet jack. What more do you want? :P

I know you were speaking tongue-in-cheek but really, this is why both ingress and egress firewalling with a default-deny policy for each is a good idea.

Then it's not so simple for a company to help themselves to your bandwidth. That, by the way, should be illegal unless they first negotiate with you and obtain your explicit written permission to do so. Like anything else, they're not the ones paying for it so they don't automatically have some claim to use it. The failure to recognize that is generally known as "theft of services".

If the companies really think this is acceptable, perhaps they wouldn't mind several tens of thousands of browsers refreshing their home pages as quickly as possible? After all, they think it's acceptable to do as you please with another's bandwidth without their express consent... I have the feeling they wouldn't like that at all. In fact I have the feeling they'd use every legal means available to go after anyone who arranged that.

Re:'bout time (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471392)

It's likely that to a normal firewall (i.e. one that a home user might have) the connection the game makes to be able to play is the same as the ones it makes to torrent stuff to other people. While it may be theoretically possible to isolate the handful of IP adresses that a given game actually needs to access to work, good luck finding a firewall that will actually let you restrict that game to those addresses, and that doesn't even begin to tackle games with a multiplayer mode which just hook individual users together (not sure how many still do that now, but there are bound to be some).

Re:'bout time (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472452)

It's likely that to a normal firewall (i.e. one that a home user might have) the connection the game makes to be able to play is the same as the ones it makes to torrent stuff to other people. While it may be theoretically possible to isolate the handful of IP adresses that a given game actually needs to access to work, good luck finding a firewall that will actually let you restrict that game to those addresses, and that doesn't even begin to tackle games with a multiplayer mode which just hook individual users together (not sure how many still do that now, but there are bound to be some).

Yes, but at that point it's no longer a stealth P2P client. That transfers it out of the realm of a technical problem and into the realm of a problem of the marketplace. Then a user can knowingly choose to purchase from such companies or not, and that's the point. It's the "stealth" or "buried in page 111 of the EULA" part that's the real problem here.

As far as "good luck finding a game that will actually let you restrict that game to those IP addresses", any firewall worthy of the name lets you match traffic by IP address. You can do that with or without any ability to consider what program on your machine is opening the sockets.

What follows is just an aside and not my main point. Still, I never really liked the trend for Windows firewalls to do little more than maintain a list of .EXE files that are or are not allowed to open certain sockets. That's more like an ACL applied to a narrow set of system calls. A proper firewall is for the management of IP traffic and doesn't necessarily need to know anything about specific processes, though that can be an extra feature (i.e. the Linux firewall's optional "owner" module). It always struck me as a kludge for nontechnical users who know little or nothing about network protocols but do recognize labels like "firefox.exe". With a proper stateful firewall and some networking know-how it's trivial to restrict traffic to a set of known IP addresses and you may still be able to recognize and allow things like multiplayer modes that connect individual users together.

The problem with this (2, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472434)

If it's OK to do this with a game you like a lot, with terms hidden deep in the fine print of the EULA, then it's also OK for every cheesy browser plugin and toolbar extension and Java Applet.

Sure, you're OK with one hidden P2P client on your system. How would you feel about 175 of them?

Blizzard (4, Insightful)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470568)

Isn't this how Blizzard distributes updates for their games?

Re:Blizzard (4, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470586)

Blizzard doesn't really try to hide it.

Re:Blizzard (2, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470664)

TWIT and Revision3 both started their podcasting empire by using torrents... but both moved to traditional downloads when sponsors wanted an accuate count of viewers.

Re:Blizzard (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470686)

TWIT and Revision3 both started their podcasting empire by using torrents... but both moved to traditional downloads when sponsors wanted an accuate count of viewers.

Wouldn't some sort of Flash Cookie [ghacks.net] allow to keep track of viewers regardless of method of content dissemination?

Re:Blizzard (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470894)

Nope, things like TiVo and Roku don't honor such cookies.

Re:Blizzard (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33470590)

No they are upfront about it and you can easily disable it.

Re:Blizzard (5, Insightful)

Moridin42 (219670) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470596)

Last I knew, which was quite some time ago, Blizzard was real explicit about the fact that you were uploading while fetching a patch. Upload speed and bytes transferred provided in the update pane.

Its the companies that don't tell you that you're part of their distribution network, or how much of your bandwidth is being consumed, that this article is against.

Re:Blizzard (5, Informative)

MareLooke (1003332) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470752)

And most importantly, Blizzard allows you to turn it off without hassle at all,

Re:Blizzard (1)

Haffner (1349071) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470918)

how? While downloading starcraft 2 beta, there was nothing I could find that would let me block uploading. At the time, I could do 300KB down, and ~80KB up. However, I couldn't do both at the same time. As a result, I was doing something like 40/40, and it was taking 7.5X as long as it should have. In the end, I had to resort to installing traffic shapers so that I couldn't upload. It was very disappointing.

Re:Blizzard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33471034)

keyword here: beta

The beta's don't necessarily let you turn off P2P but complete releases are available for download without using the bit torrent client.

Re:Blizzard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33471138)

"how? While downloading starcraft 2 beta, there was nothing I could find that would let me block uploading"

You could have just downloaded the beta torrent directly, and the Starcraft 2 full blizzard downloader lets you block uploading.

Re:Blizzard (2, Informative)

jgeiger (1356045) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471050)

Blizzard lets you know but they have a very bad habit of using 100% of your upstream bandwidth which ends up slowing your download since you can't acknowledge all the incoming data fast enough. It may have gotten better but they still need to limit it to 90% or something.

Re:Blizzard (2, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471292)

You have to agree to use the peer to peer thing with WoW. I don't like WoW but played it for about a month, and remember specifically the P2P warning. I think it's a great idea as long as the user knows about it. The one thing none of them have come up with is to have the client CHECK THE LAN! I have a whole family that plays and it's ridiculous to have to patch the same same game on 4 different computers at once. I should be able to have 1 patch and the others transfer the same files over the lan. Instead I have to patch 1 client and then use backup software to write to the other computers.

Re:Blizzard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33471514)

umm as a matter of fact you can, just grab the downloaded patch from the install dir from your WoW dir and copy onto a thumbstick and run it on the other machines.

Re:Blizzard (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472704)

Just find a patch mirror an agreeable ISP like http://games.on.net/filelist.php?app=178&menu=1 [on.net] , not sure how up to date this is I don't WOW.

Mirroring with ISP's is the best solution to limit network costs.

I always thought distributing game servers through the ISP channel with shared income (rather than payment) from game serving for MMOG, allowing alternate sales like the ISP can provide free access to game servers as part of the internet access fee (substantially increase client numbers), would be the best model.

This avoids cross network traffic and the associated cost, reduces capital infrastructure costs for MMOG publishers, creates a distributed sales and promotion channel via numerous mid-sized or larger ISPs and provides a single billing point for the end-user (saving substantive billing costs). The game publisher just needs to be able to monitor activity on those servers at the ISP to ensure accurate payments.

Re:Blizzard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33471828)

Actually, in the beta for Cataclysm the Launcher now appears to see all the time. So if you leave the Launcher running and walk away, you'll be using bandwidth to give people the game client who don't have it.

Probably not a very big deal, but it _is_ a little different from only doing it during patch installation.

Re:Blizzard (2, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471272)

Heh, heh. That reminds me: the university I work at has configured their packet-shaper to silently block P2P protocols. This has the unintended side-effect of blocking World of Warcraft from even running, apparently. I'd asked one of our student workers "well, doesn't that just block torrent-distributed updates?"; evidently something else WoW does registers as P2P.

I'm waiting for the riot when all the addicts realize they can't play their game.

Re:Blizzard (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471584)

Please name it, so people can avoid that university. Believe it or not useful Internet service is something college students pay for and should receive. It sure would have impacted me downloading all those redhat and SuSe isos.

Re:Blizzard (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471870)

I haven't tried torrenting anything since I learned of this, so it's all second-hand.

Re:Blizzard (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33472436)

Man, how protective we have become (can't exactly blame you because anonymity ain't what it used to be.) Just today someone posted AC because some Dell supervisor or legal team once replied to his non-AC for revealing priviledged info (no details on whether it was NDA, but it had to do with slacking off and outsourcing.)

A different slashdotter (0123456) refused to name his laptop brand [slashdot.org] on some useful non-purchase advice he gave us --though in this particular case no liability exists for the casual/uninvolved advise given.

Holding our free speech will be much worse when we're all forced to take the RealID "pill." It's coming sooner or later, (several countries followed India's lead forcing RIM to submit to wire-tapping laws.) At least it's good practice to not say much. I bet you live in the US and are afraid of the lawyers :)

--vlueboy, AC due to spent modpoints

This is the end of unlimited unmetered bandwidth.. (5, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470610)

Data usage costs money. Anybody offering a server with "Unlimited" bandwidth on a web server is lying to you, and the more data transfer a plan allows, the more expensive the hosting gets. Exceed your transfer limit on a server, and expect to pay cell-phone like overage fees.

Right now, this isn't a big deal because what they're stealing from their users doesn't cost the user extra right now... but imagine if the GB they stole from you is the one that puts you over a Comcast-style cap. That would suck big.

The network operators have already been complaining about illegal torrents not just because they're illegal content sharing, but because having people uploading like crazy from the consumer side of their network just isn't what they designed it to handle. Now, what are they going to say when the content is legal, and the user got suckered into agreeing to allow it in a game's TOS?

Re:This is the end of unlimited unmetered bandwidt (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470716)

But if we're ALL using more bandwidth, shouldn't that bandwidth get cheaper? The laws of supply and demand apply here, do they not?

Re:This is the end of unlimited unmetered bandwidt (4, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470738)

If we're all using more bandwidth, that's a demand increase, not a supply increase.

Re:This is the end of unlimited unmetered bandwidt (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471300)

thus cost will increase until supply catches up or users learn about firewalls.

Re:This is the end of unlimited unmetered bandwidt (0)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470846)

You're thinking economies of scale, but as a finite resource increased bandwidth usage = increased demand. Increased demand = increased price.

Re:This is the end of unlimited unmetered bandwidt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33471030)

You're thinking economies of scale, but as a finite resource increased bandwidth usage = increased demand. Increased demand = increased price.

Wrong! Bandwidth does get a lot cheaper as quantity increases. While it isn't infinite it is almost. The only reason that it doesn't
seem to is that ISPs & mobile companies don't put enough investment into more bandwidth.

Re:This is the end of unlimited unmetered bandwidt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33471180)

You're saying that the only reason we don't have more bandwidth is because companies don't spend enough money on it, and if companies spent more money on it, it would get cheaper because there would be more of it? Isn't that what 'economies of scale' means? You don't seem to have comprehended brainboyz point. He said, given that we have a fixed amount of bandwidth presently, increased demand now will mean increased prices now. To which you replied, yeah, but if we build more of it, it will get cheaper.

Not to be rude, but please go read an introductory book on economics.

Re:This is the end of unlimited unmetered bandwidt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33471352)

stealing

Hey now, way too much of this word in this discussion thread. How can they be stealing? It's just bits on a wire!

Re:This is the end of unlimited unmetered bandwidt (2, Informative)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471474)

The average price of 1 GB of transferred data on CDN's is 10-15 cents. I'd be surprised if they don't get 10 cents from advertising by the time people do 1 GB worth of downloads. IMHO the companies are just abusing the people's bandwidth without caring about the consequences.

And just fyi, I can buy today a dedicated server with a 1gbps unmetered connection (guaranteed and tested) for about 600$ a month. That's 0.18 CENTS per GB of transferred data.

Re:This is the end of unlimited unmetered bandwidt (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471560)

But CDNs and server farms are closer to the backbone providers than your home and office ever will be... and that's where the network planners are expecting content to come from. A $60 Comcast connection that can only handle 250 GB a billing cycle is 24 cents a GB... and that's 1500 times the cost of "doing it right" by paying for your CDN instead of trying to get your users to supply the uploads.

Re:This is the end of unlimited unmetered bandwidt (1)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471620)

I don't get what you're trying to say.

You can't compare the quality bandwidth of a CDN (fast download speed, consistency, multiple points of presence close to users) at 10 cents a GB with an unreliable, poor quality, possibly throttled bandwidth home users who may turn off their computers at any time.

P2P connections are good as addition to good regular connections and good quality bandwidth becomes cheaper and cheaper so p2p in my oppinion should only be used as last measure.

Re:This is the end of unlimited unmetered bandwidt (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471764)

Back to the original story, this games company is installing hidden P2P servers instead of paying a CDN... basically passing a cost they should pay for onto the users, who would rather see it included in the price of the game than forced onto them because their computers don't make good servers.

Re:This is the end of unlimited unmetered bandwidt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33472152)

Data usage doesn't cost THAT much.

We have electrical costs, technician costs, infrastructure equipment costs, fiber costs, licensing and incorporation costs, administration personnel costs, future R&D costs, government offset costs, and profit. Divide that sum over your time frame and number of customers and you have your monthly rate.

You're telling me data usage is the REAL expenditure here? Passing bits through the fiber is the least expensive item in the equation.

Re:This is the end of unlimited unmetered bandwidt (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33472738)

Over here (Australia), we have metered bandwidth. Back in the day, it used to be metered downloads, and if you went over your limit, you were charged high overage fees. Dollars per megabyte. That was common... 8 years ago?

Until recently, most ISPs used metered downloads, with shaping instead of overage fees (stupidly labelled as "unlimited" by marketing departments, despite being nothing of the sort). Generally, you go over your quota, and your connection speed is reduced to approximately dial-up speeds.

Shaping really sucks - going from ~8Mbit/s to ~64Kbit/s is ridiculous, especially considering they usually implement shaping by simply dropping packets. It doesn't just slow things down - it makes it unreliable as well. It basically leaves you with an unusable internet connection for the remainder of the billing period.

There's no provision for adding more quota either. You could upgrade to the next highest plan (if you aren't on the maximum already - the highest most ISPs offered was around 100GB/month until the last month or so). Assuming they don't adjust the extra quota depending on the remaining time in the billing period. Mine does - if I upgraded to a plan with an additional 10GB/month, but only had 1 week remaining, I'd only get 2.5GB extra. I'd then be stuck on that plan, unless I wanted to pay a $20 downgrade fee.

The two largest ISPs also have metered uploads, and have done for years. The third largest ISP is introducing them as part of their recent plan upgrades. I expect others to follow, if they haven't already.

P2P on Flash (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472910)

Well, World's most popular video streamer has "P2P" now, in Adobe fashion, you must pay extra money for server upgrades to enable it but it exists in Flash Player 10.1.

http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/stratus/ [adobe.com]

I am sure everyone in industry is testing it in their intranets now as people really went crazy over resolution, they demand at least 720P, no matter what the content is.

Wonder what will they do about it, e.g. if Youtube enables it one day? As youtube isn't exactly piratebay, if you ban it, your customers ban you as soon as they figure their video isn't working.

Invert all word meanings on the Internet... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33470662)

Pando Media Booster = slows down your internet connection
Norton Antivirus = makes your computer vulnerable to hacking
Trusted Computing = you can't be sure if you have control of your computer
etc.

Thank you, Well Known Hero. (2, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470844)

Pando Media Booster = slows down your internet connection
Norton Antivirus = makes your computer vulnerable to hacking
Trusted Computing = you can't be sure if you have control of your computer
etc.

Your contribution to this discussion is sort of depressing.

Re:Thank you, Well Known Hero. (1)

gagol (583737) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470974)

Truth is not always funny to hear... but doublespeak is now the political norm.

Re:Thank you, Well Known Hero. (1)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471064)

Did you miss the title of the Anonymous Coward's post? "Sort of depressing" was as close to the opposite of "Totally hilarious" as I could get.

Re:Invert all word meanings on the Internet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33472476)

Oh please.... let's not limit ourselves to the internet

Military Intelligence = WTF? Hardly.
Customer service = Customer annoyance
News for Nerds = Random bullshit that Timothy felt was important.

Not very stealthy (4, Informative)

Zan Lynx (87672) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470694)

I reinstalled Dungeons and Dragons Online recently. The installer uses Pando. However, it wasn't very sneaky about it. It was in the install at some point.

It would have been nice if it had uninstalled itself after the several gigabyte download or if the installer had explained more about the consequences of leaving it installed. The information about Pando was easily available to me via a web search. Pando uninstalled without any problems from the Windows control panel.

I wouldn't worry about it fairly polite software like Pando too much. The kind of people who install everything without reading the dialog boxes or doing any research are going to end up with their computer stuffed full of malware in any case.

Also is it that big a deal? (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470824)

As far as I can tell from any game I've seen, it only does it while patching. You download and upload while you get a patch. Any other time it isn't running. So how is that a big deal? All it does is help get patches out faster. Back in the old days of MMOs, patch day sucked. Everything ground to a halt as everyone hit the server at once. Game companies couldn't afford the massive network of servers like Microsoft has. P2P helps solve that. As more people download, more people upload and it stays more even.

So long as it is happening only when you are patching, I don't see any big deal. Now if they are trying to make you a server all the time in the background, then yes we'd have a problem but I have not observed that behaviour.

Re:Also is it that big a deal? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33470842)

For people on metered broadband, yes, it is.

Re:Also is it that big a deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33471314)

I'm actually pretty sure that Pando (DDO, LotRO, etc) kept running in the background even when you were done patching.

Re:Also is it that big a deal? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33471874)

For people who use a school network that permanently bans p2p users, yes.

Re:Not very stealthy (5, Interesting)

illumin8 (148082) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471640)

I reinstalled Dungeons and Dragons Online recently. The installer uses Pando. However, it wasn't very sneaky about it. It was in the install at some point.

The problem is that Turbine, makers of DDO and Lord of the Rings Online, is installing what is essentially the equivalent of adware or spyware without the user's permission. You have to manually uninstall it afterwards, and you are not given a choice whether or not to install it. Would you accept it if a game publisher installed adware toolbars into your browser without your permission?

This automatically puts Turbine on my shit list. I thought they were pretty cool for releasing DDO as a free to play game, but then when I found they installed Pando Media Booster, I uninstalled both Pando and DDO. You don't get to treat your customers like shit and expect us not to uninstall your software and send it to the /dev/null where it belongs.

Re:Not very stealthy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33471858)

Your comment post is confusing and contradictory.

It would have been nice if it had uninstalled itself after the several gigabyte download or if the installer had explained more about the consequences of leaving it installed.

It would have been nice? Yet you say that the Pando software is polite...which is it? It seems like Pando is being extremely rude, like an uninvited house guest that is stealing the silverware.

The information about Pando was easily available to me via a web search.

Again, how is it that Pando is "polite" software when you have to go out of your way to research what ill effects might be brought on you by installing it?

Pando uninstalled without any problems from the Windows control panel.

Great! But that only helps if you know that it is being installed and what it actually does...

I wouldn't worry about it fairly polite software like Pando too much. The kind of people who install everything without reading the dialog boxes or doing any research are going to end up with their computer stuffed full of malware in any case.

So at least you can admit that Pando is behaving similar to malware. Perhaps it should be added to the malware blacklist?

I think the point is that some companies at least try to earn trust by acting responsibly and there are others that just out to exploit. No software company, including Pando, should be helping themselves to anything using our PCs, including our bandwidth.

Re:Not very stealthy (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472908)

But not everyone is technically savy, some people just want to play some games.

I was getting really lagged during the Ruse open beta (and in that beta lag was a big deal since small amounts of it screwed up the game completely, it seemed anyway). When I checked the traffic counts I saw I was uploading a lot more than I should be. Found the culprit and some web searches and time wasting revealed it was installed by that stupid DDO game I had installed the week before and promptly decided sucked.

I though I did read the dialog boxes, I just didn't comprehend the "it will send enough traffic to lag other things even though you aren't using the game anymore" part.

I agree it wasn't hidden, it just wasn't obvious.

Web games (1)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470700)

Now that's definitely an advantage of web games like Game! [wittyrpg.com] , there's no client to download in the first place!

Re:Web games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33472412)

I lost. :(

Don't you dare steal our games... (4, Insightful)

Red_Chaos1 (95148) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470718)

...but don't mind us as we steal your bandwidth. Oh but we *did* get your explicit permission. It was buried in that wall of text you agreed to that we could.

Re:Don't you dare steal our games... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33470778)

You mean that wall of text that you tried to write to my temp directory? The one that has a "read only" file named EULA.txt that says "While under normal circumstances installing this software would require all your base to belong to us, under these circumstances we're happy to say that all OUR base are belong to YOU"?

Re:Don't you dare steal our games... (3, Interesting)

jmerlin (1010641) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470802)

Can't wait until we get court rulings against clickwrap agreements that are so overly-verbose that no sane person will read it. Companies are following Washington in "how to sneak in something you want" by simply cleverly hiding it in the middle of a massively huge document and hoping nobody notices and instead just clicks the "Agree" button, even though it should really read "OK OK FINE. I'LL CLICK THIS DAMN BUTTON BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO READ 100 PAGES OF POORLY CRAFTED LEGALESE."

Connections doesn't reset while updating WoW? (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472868)

I see Blizzard uses basic bittorrent, a really old client code licensed which doesn't have any kind of encyription/security features.

So, if you are customer of an evil ISP which does packet inspection and shameless enough to conspire your connection with RSET, what happens when you update WoW and try to browse web same time?

As a side note, for OS X admins who may have heart attack, one of Akamai "P2P" frameworks on OS X is actually named "RSPlug". It is not the RSPlugin virus. Guess what it comes with? 2nd hand car priced Adobe suite, CS3 or CS4, not sure.

Fun stuff? (3, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470804)

Okay sure. Well how about most places where you're on a capped bandwidth limit? Wonder what would happen if people started sending bills to the company who's sucking up all their bandwidth. It's sure not exactly cheap, some places have no cap on the amount they can charge you, and others cap at a max of $50/mo.

And no, ELUA's, walls of text, and so on are not binding everywhere. And where they are binding, many places require them to be plain declarations of intent(so people can understand them).

Re:Fun stuff? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471598)

Most places?
Were exactly is this most places you speak of?

I have lived in multiple nations on two continents and never have I run into this "Most Places" where I had capped bandwidth.

Re:Fun stuff? (1)

sp332 (781207) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472498)

Re:Fun stuff? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472796)

It's difficult to buy an uncapped plan in Australia or New Zealand.

Turbine. (4, Insightful)

Mark19960 (539856) | more than 4 years ago | (#33470852)

I called them out for it and it fell on deaf ears.
It's not their bandwidth so they don't really care.
They are using Pando Media Booster... and it's so badly set up that it takes 4 times as long to download the game
because they saturate the upstream, causing issues.

In short, these game houses don't care because it's a reduced cost to them.

Re:Turbine. (2, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471114)

I called them out for it and it fell on deaf ears.
They are using Pando Media Booster...

Except, as mentioned above, they seem to be fairly open about using a P2P download system and it's easy to uninstall afterwards.

It's some time since I installed DDO and LOTRO but from what I remember it told you to uninstall Pando after downloading the game if you didn't want it to continue using bandwidth, and it's just a matter of using the standard uninstall from the control panel.

Re:Turbine. (1)

aevan (903814) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472430)

When I installed DDO, I didn't catch any mention that it would continue to act as a peering client well past installation/downloading..running silently even when hadn't loaded up the game after a reboot.. Only caught it when checking discrepancies as to where 40 gig of bandwidth disappeared that month (blew my ISP's lousy cap that time).

The software uninstalled pretty easily, and wouldn't have minded running it occasionally or in a limited fashion, but cannot claim to be impressed by it.

Re:Turbine. (1)

damnbunni (1215350) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472712)

Turbine no longer offers the Turbine Download Manager (which used Pando.)

Their download pages for Lord of the Rings Online and D&D Online still mention Pando and have a link to a Pando FAQ, but the only downloads are for the single-file, multi-gig installer .exe's.

I think they finally just gave up on getting it to actually work.

Can we name names here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33470996)

OK, I know that Blizzard uses BitTorrent, but they're fairly upfront about it.

Someone else has mentioned Dungeons and Dragons Online, but they again mention it.

I know for a fact that the Final Fantasy XIV Beta uses P2P but makes no mention of it (thanks, firewall!), but thanks to the NDA, I can't tell you about that. Or I could post AC.

So can we name names and make a list of companies that mislead customers about P2P and waste their bandwidth? We can start with:

SQUARE ENIX: Final Fantasy XIV (no indication)

Re:Can we name names here? (5, Informative)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471278)

OK, I know that Blizzard uses BitTorrent, but they're fairly upfront about it.

Someone else has mentioned Dungeons and Dragons Online, but they again mention it.

I know for a fact that the Final Fantasy XIV Beta uses P2P but makes no mention of it (thanks, firewall!), but thanks to the NDA, I can't tell you about that. Or I could post AC.

So can we name names and make a list of companies that mislead customers about P2P and waste their bandwidth? We can start with:

SQUARE ENIX: Final Fantasy XIV (no indication)

Of course this wouldn't work for an MMORPG that inherently requires network access. In my case, the few Windows games I play are single-player and run well under WINE on my Linux machine. I don't trust them in the slightest. I'll detail some of the measures I take:

  • I run Wine as a separate user account that isn't ever used for anything else.
  • I use iptables (with --match owner) to prevent that account from having any sort of network access. It cannot even ping google.com.
  • For several others reasons I use a PaX/Grsecurity kernel. It has an option that prevents normal users from seeing any processes except their own, which I use.

That last one was handy back when I played WoW since the need for some network access meant I couldn't fully use the second security measure. The WoW client has a piece of spyware intended as an anti-cheating device. It takes a list of all running processes on the computer as an attempt at detecting common cheat programs, like those that enable unauthorized automation of gameplay. It reports these results back to Blizzard.

With that feature of PaX/Grsecurity, that WoW client would only see itself and a few WINE-related processes (like wineserver and winedevice). On a more standard Linux system, any process belonging to any user can view every processes belonging to every user (as you can verify with the 'ps' command). I consider cheating to be Blizzard's problem. I didn't consider the processes I choose to run to be Blizzard's business, though I'm willing to reconsider if they ever give me a user account on their servers and let me see what I can see.

It's surprising in some ways and utterly unsurprising in others when I consider how much more control I have over these things with WINE and Linux than anyone running these games under real Windows. More than that, I have a much greater assurance that my control won't be undermined because at no point am I having to trust the good intentions of Blizzard or any other game company. Instead, I deny them everything and then allow them the few things I decide they have a legitimate need to do. This is how it should be. If that were the norm there would be no "stealth p2p clients".

Re:Can we name names here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33472724)

Nice setup. Almost replicates one of the positives aspects about iPad/iPhone software.

Re:Can we name names here? (4, Insightful)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472322)

You can't comment on whether Final Fantasy 14 discloses that it uses P2P, because you don't have a copy of FF14. You only have a copy of the beta. The fact that it uses P2P to download the beta client and updates is spelled out in the download and installation instructions that you clearly didn't read.

Re:Can we name names here? (2, Informative)

hldn (1085833) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472852)

huh? when you run the updater for FFxiv it clearly shows your download AND upload speed in the panel. if that isn't obvious, i don't know what is.

Bittorrent DNA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33471006)

Just had a similar problem with uploads sky rocketing, because a user installed Bittorrent while away, and had btdna.exe running in the background on their workstation...

http://www.bittorrent.com/dna

Media Streaming Too (2, Informative)

AganLex (308537) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471134)

Just a heads up, but media streaming is also heading this way. The "OctoStream" plugin for streaming video (Major League Gaming stream, etc) is also a P2P streamer.

Re:Media Streaming Too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33472560)

Just a heads up, but media streaming is also heading this way.

Thanks. That's a scary thought: who the heck is going to say no to it if a torrenting backend makes itself a must for Hulu, youtube and netflix? I heard Flash itself already had some torrenting functionality for this kinda thing, or was close to. We all grumbled about DRM and TPM in the OS, but Windows Media Player and iTunes pushed it this way anyway. An annoying but ubiquitous specter similar CD keys and online activation for OS's.

Theft of service (2, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471162)

If *I* did that id be in jail. Why aren't they?

Re:Theft of service (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33471558)

Because you agreed to it in the TOS...

Re:Theft of service (4, Funny)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471768)

>>Because you agreed to it in the TOS...

I did no such thing.

As I recall I might have clicked a checkbox and hit next, but that was just one of Many screens I had to correctly configure to get the game to install. I made no agreements after the exchange for the sale was finished.

If that is actually binding, then there is the additional problem for them that my bandwidth TOS is clearly posted on my website.

The first clause is I can change this "agreement" at any time without sending notification, and the second clause is they agree to my TOS by providing in their software a button with the text "I agree", which I can click on to confirm they indeed agree to my TOS.

The charges for my bandwidth are spelled out there, and I will be sending the bill in the mail now.
If they don't pay it by 90 days, I guess I will just have to submit the invoice to a collections agency or something...

Re:Theft of service (1)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472180)

I hope your NOT kidding.

Re:Theft of service (0)

evilviper (135110) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472356)

my bandwidth TOS is clearly posted on my website.

Netscape got into trouble just because their EULA was BELOW the "download" button on their web page, so users might reasonably not have seen it, and therefore could not be bound to it. Your own contract posted on some random website??? Not a chance in hell it'll be upheld.

The EULA of the game you just installed? No matter how well you tuned it out, it remains a binding contract.

Now, if, on the other hand, you had paid for the software with a sealed envelope that had a contract wrapped around it, THEN you've got a chance it would be binding to them... The only problem being "them" is just some retail store, and not the makers of the game, who you really want to bind.

Re:Theft of service (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472570)

Now, if, on the other hand, you had paid for the software with a sealed envelope that had a contract wrapped around it, THEN you've got a chance it would be binding to them... The only problem being "them" is just some retail store, and not the makers of the game, who you really want to bind.

Wait... so if I buy software from a retail store, the manufacturer of the software can bind ME (despite the fact that I've never actually had contact with them), but I can't bind them (for exactly the same reason)?

Screw that. Getting past the EULA is just part of the game.

Re:Theft of service (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 4 years ago | (#33472718)

the manufacturer of the software can bind ME (despite the fact that I've never actually had contact with them), but I can't bind them (for exactly the same reason)?

Sure, you can bind them, but you'll have to delivery your license by courier or some such. It's a simple fact that, when you buy a product, you're getting something physical from them, but they don't get anything physical from you.

Re:Theft of service (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33472624)

If *I* did that id be in jail. Why aren't they?

Sadly, because American companies cannot go to jail.

To add insult to injury, BP isn't even american, and their monetary negligence polluted the US environment and caused some deaths of their workers but without consecuences other than bad press and a little lost cash. Now for us the people, damages are more substantial: BP allegedly conned some affected businesspeople out of payments making up for the oil spill. They got government backup in keeping the press away from the impacted area, and convinced the legislation against our president's request that oil rigs be put on pause for even 6 months. Heh, the lack on this reactive moratorium even helped cause Thursday's new oil rig explosion, for example. ...And yet BP did not go to jail, and not a single member of BP went to jail while uncertainty made US oil prices fluctuate, innocents lost their livelihood, jobs, beach vacations, etc. So at the moment, only the words WAR and terrorism bring the law's banhammer to down action these days.

Not Anything New (1)

billsayswow (1681722) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471168)

If I remember right, World of Warcraft distributes their patches over a P2P system. Maybe it isn't Ironforge that always makes you laggy....

OSes should come with a standard p2p daemon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33471356)

This sounds like some kind of Windows thing; the normal world wouldn't stand for it, very long.

Consumer OSes might as well come with some sort of generic P2P interface (think /usr/bin/sendmail, which is just part of whatever mail package you happen to have installed), and then whether that happens to then run transmission-remote or a giFT client or screw-p2p-maybe-it's-just-wget-or-curl-or-maybe-even-rsync-or-git, the user can decide. And if for some weird reason the user wants to have the daemon not show up on "ps" that's their business (though it sounds like this Windows-services-are-invisible thing, is probably an OS bug). Games shouldn't come with this stuff; they should just use whatever's in the virtual download-a-bunch-of-shit slot. Otherwise people are going to have a different updater app running, and probably each with a variety of bugs, for every non-updater app that they have installed. That would be silly.

And if this all sounds naive but you can't figure out just how dumb I'm being, or maybe sarcastic but you can't figure out how insincerely I mean it, then I'll tell you: I'm serious, and it's actually good idea.

Network Meter gadget (4, Informative)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#33471864)

If you're running Windows 7 or Vista, the first thing you should install is the Network Meter (and All CPU Meter) gadget. If you suspect any unusual activity, you can quickly glance at your CPU and network resources being used.

You can get them at http://www.addgadget.com/ [addgadget.com]

Media Companies, Take Note (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33471986)

I've been wondering for years why the tv networks and movie studios don't adopt this model for non-DRM video distribution but actually let you know what's going on.

Correct me if i'm wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33472596)

But doesn't blizzard do this??

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