WoW screenshots alleged to contain account-identifying digital watermarks

World of Warcraft watermark

By on September 12, 2012 at 9:59 am

A thread on OwnedCore alleges that World of Warcraft screenshots are now being automatically watermarked with account-identifying information inside, and offers steps for you to see this information for yourself.

Sharpening images to high levels reveals non-random, non-artificated sets of repeating symbols which some users have discovered to contain references to player account names, realm time, and realm IP address.

The pattern does not contain any information such as passwords, user IPs or real names, but users have raised concerns that this is not mentioned in the game’s Terms of Service agreement and that Blizzard should have disclosed it. The popular theory at the moment is that the functionality was added in order to track any possible leaks from NDA’d alpha testers, but testing has shown that this has been in place some time between 2008 and 2010.

Blizzard have yet to release an official comment.

Source: OwnedCore via Blue’s News

6 comments (Leave your own)

The hell do people find stuff like this out?

 

vand, Could be ex-employees, or hackers / people debugging the game to find these kind of things, or accidentally stumbling upon it whilst trawling the memory for other information.

 

Interesting to note that this only started happening when Activision took over Blizzard and has been there for years.

 
psychofruiterer

Could also be that someone was playing with a wow screenshot in photoshop and messing with filters, tried sharpness, turned it way up and was like “wtf is that”, which then was investigated a bit.

May well have been information that has been around for a while too, the account name or the reference to it that is talked about is an email address, so is a potential security of account leak imo.

 

Funnily enough, I was talking to a mate the other day who helps post-grad students with data analyses and so forth… he was telling me about one post-grad who’s studying embedded code in jpegs, and looking at algorithms to try to determine the likelihood that there are data embedded in an image.

My mate understands nothing of this, only how to analyse the findings, so I don’t know any details but apparently there are people researching stuff like this and not even getting paid.

tldr; unlikely, but it could even have been found by a post grad doing their phd

 

vand:
The hell do people find stuff like this out?

It was found because a WoW user (kgkoutzis) noticed that his/her large resolution screenshots had some unexplained artefacting that was simply not present when screenshot were taken by external applications. Their finding were posted on the OwnedCore forums and a three day marathon of decryption finally determined what is posted in the article. What is interesting that the artefacts are only present when quality settings one through nine are used; the images emerge unaffected when the highest quality setting (ten) is used.

PCGamer have testing and confirmed the OwnedCore community’s findings…

 
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