A security team developer provided an update today on squelching and credit spam in SWTOR.
I’m a developer attached to our security team, and that includes fighting credit farmers, exploiters, sellers, and spammers. Unfortunately we have to be pretty tight lipped about any of our security work because we don’t want ‘The Baddies’ knowing what we’re doing. The best kind of work we do is where players don’t realize we’ve done anything at all. I promise you, though, we do work hard at ensuring the game experience is fun from all sides, and that includes cutting down on spam wherever viable.
One of the more frustrating kinds of spam players have reported recently was a new approach: Tell Spam. We noticed spammers sending massive numbers of tells to players around the server. The rate the messages went out meant it was impossible for us to manually react. By the time someone saw the spam the damage was done. A large number of players were impacted and the spammer could simply log out, their job done. That was too much of an inconvenience and we quickly built a system to cut down on that behavior.
Without going into too many details: If someone goes on a mission to send as many tells as they possibly can, as fast as they can, there’s a good chance they’ll wind up squelched, even without manual CSR intervention.
I want to stress that this action happens only because of efforts by the player who got squelched. They performed an action that was deemed sufficiently disruptive and likely enough to be a spammer or a griefer so the system automatically shut them down to prevent any more spam. Your friend who you sent a bunch of messages to too quickly (nice or mean) did not report you, a CSR didn’t hold a grudge against you, you just looked like a spammer to our automated systems. The squelch WILL eventually wear off (length is subject to change).
So, I have a few requests for all of you:
- Please don’t spam each other with the same message over and over again. That’s what spammers do, and you don’t want to copy them. If you need to get someone’s attention, you can slow down the messages. Copy-pasting the same message to people as fast as you can, over and over again, is the only way you can really hit current limits. I feel bad for anyone who gets caught and subsequently squelched, but the key is not to act like a spammer/credit seller.
- Secure your accounts. All of them, not just your SWTOR account. Credit spammers and sellers regularly compromise accounts, by getting into email accounts, figuring out passwords through shared accounts, or using Trojans to sniff passwords. Enable ‘Two Factor’ authentication on your email if available, use a security key for your SWTOR account, use a different password for different services, and find ways to ensure your data is locked up by more than just the username and password where you can. By having two factor authentication you make it much harder for them to improperly access your data.
- Please right-click and report spammers. We DO pay attention to that, and the more reports we get on a person the higher up it goes in our list of ‘Likely spam message’ for us to track and deal with. There was a brief time where right-click reporting wasn’t working properly and our CSRs weren’t getting the ‘check out this spammer and ban him’ message. That has been fixed, but that time of it being broken caused a sharp decline in people using it. It works now, I promise! Report spammers! It makes us all happier when we remove them from our game.
- Don’t buy credits!!! Buying credits encourages the spamming and encourages bad people to keep harming others. While tracking and busting these rings we discover links to stolen credit cards, compromised accounts, and cheating in game. This harms the play experience for other players and they do all of this because they make money. We’re doing what we can on our end but we need the players to push back too and to refuse to buy from them. With No-Cost character training we’ve removed a huge credit sink and acquiring credits has gotten much easier, thanks to the Epic Story XP Boost (12X XP) getting you to higher-end content faster. Why put your account, personal, and financial information at risk, when you can easily protect it?
[A developer who is remaining anonymous because credit selling is literally tied to organized crime and my job is to make them angry]
P.S. We do read the forums and see your complaints and I want you guys to keep it up! If something is bugging you about spam in the game, about exploits happening, about things going wrong, TELL US. We do action them as we can, and those posts do make a difference. We can’t always show our work, and as far as security tasks are concerned we usually try and keep you from seeing anything happened at all, but we are there in the shadows, working to keep things right. Sorry this is the first (and probably last) post I’ll get to make on the topic, but please keep up posting about problems, keep reporting spammers, keep helping us help you.