Valorant’s new anti-cheat system went beyond the norm. Riot’s new system Vanguard now operates at a kernel-mode level.
Riot Games, Valorant creator just introduced its newest anti-cheat system. Vanguard is a cheat detection feature that aims at protecting the new team shooter as soon as the game launches.
However, Vanguard operates differently. Instead of loading as the game launches, the kernel-mode drivel loads automatically upon Windows boot up.
This is way different than what Valorant players always experienced. Riot’s previous anti-cheat system operated at a common user mode. It initializes as the game begins. The said changes in the way Riot’s anti-cheat system operates has gained various reactions from gamers.
Anti-cheat system kernel-mode risks
Speculations arose that the company is trying to improve its cheat by widening the attack surface on Windows. Security researchers believe that kernel-based drivers may penetrate the security and stability of computers.
This may lead to system-wide issues. For one, an independent security researcher named Saleem Rashid stated:
“You don’t get as many exploit mitigations in device drivers as you do in normal applications, and a bug will crash the entire OS, not just the game.”
What Riot Games has to say
Riot responded to the spreading online speculations with a statement telling that Vanguard’s anti-cheat system operation at kernel-level is common to cheating software. The Valorant maker further explained that kernel-level mode driver is needed to evade regular mode driver detections.
Regular applications cannot detect kernel-mode drivers because special privileges are required. As Vanguard works on kernel-mode, it is hard for developers to create, install and sell cheats.
This is cheats need to work around restrictions that Microsoft place on kernel-level software.
Assurance from Riot
The company behind Valorant assured the public that they went through the process before using the software.
Riot claimed that the team contracted three external security firms. Before Vanguard rolled out, a team from the company also performed a “black box attack” to see if the kernel-based anti-cheat system will affect the software.
The tested device did not show any irregularities during and after the test. Riot further assured Valorant gamers that their security team remains vigilant to detect and respond to any problem that may arise.
Vanguard is not the only anti-cheat solution that operates at kernel-mode. Battleye, a third-party anti-cheat solution operating as a kernel-based protection system keeps PUBG and Ark: Survival Evolved protected.
Fortnite is also among the list the uses kernel-based anti-cheat. League of Legends will soon be part of the team too.
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