Valorant anti-cheat could be a serious security risk for players

By Morten Marstal


Apr 14, 2020

Reading time: 2 min

Popular gaming and tech YouTuber Mutahar Anas, who runs the YouTube channel SomeOrdinaryGamers, has released a video about how Valorant’s anti-cheat engine could be a security or privacy risk to consumers. 

Riot created a new anti-cheat engine called Vanguard that must be installed in order to run the game. In the video, Anas claims that the game has a kernel anti-cheat drive, vgk.sys, that runs every time the player’s computer is powered on. 

Anas indicates that the game’s anti-cheat enables it to achieve the highest level of administrator access on a player’s computer. He states that it is similar to rootkit, a set of software tools that enable an unauthorized user to access a user’s computer undetected. 

In a response to a Reddit post, a Riot employee confirmed that vgk.sys running upon boot is an intended behavior. Most hackers and cheaters are able to get around an anti-cheat by installing cheats before the anti-cheat system starts, with Vanguard trying to get the inside track on that by launching immediately. 

Riot claims no information is gathered or sent

Riot claims that the anti-cheat system does not collect or send any information about a user’s computer back to Riot, but there is no way to prove that this is the case. Players must trust the company’s word on this, but it’s easy to see how this could be an issue given Riot’s willingness to work with institutions that do infringe on privacy. 

Requests for public versions of vulnerability audits by another Redditor went unanswered. 

“We think this is an important tool in our fight against cheaters…and if our security tools do more harm than good we will remove them and try something else. For now we think a run-at-boot time driver is the right choice.” Riot said in response to the Reddit poster. 

Anas has pointed out that while there isn’t any info being sent back to Riot, and they are not abusing the powers it is given by a user installing it, there is enough incentive for hackers to attempt to exploit it by looking into the game’s code and finding ways to breach security. 

Clearly fans are still concerned about this aspect of the game, and most are still unhappy with the answers Riot has provided. While there are no announcements about any alterations to this method of anti-cheat, it is clear from the Riot responses that it is constantly being monitored.