Rockstar has provided a fix for that terrifying GTA Online hack that exploited Passive Mode to siphon cash away from players at an alarming pace. While ideally the fix would have come sooner, it’s better late than never with something this serious. That said, the hacks used to alter RP still appear to be around.
This whole issue began some time ago when the first reports of someone having their entire in-game account drained emerged. The hack exploited the Passive Mode mechanic that charged players with hospital bills if they killed another player who was in Passive. It was a self-repeating loop that hit with such speed that millions could be gone in seconds and the victim’s account zeroed out in the blink of an eye.
A similar hack appeared in the past before, that time exploiting the insurance and bad sport mechanics to drain cash from players. However in that case Rockstar managed to fix the issue quicker, and the hack wasn’t particularly widespread. This time around the hack became commonplace on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC with frightening speed, and it took a few days longer for the devs to plug the hole.
To fix the problem Rockstar has reportedly, altered the game in a way which disables the system that charged players for the hospital bills of others killed in Passive Mode. Back when the Insurance Fraud hack was still around, Rockstar initiallly attempted a fix that left the system intact, however the hackers went around it almost instantly. Now, it looks like they’ve just axed the mechanic in question from the get-go.
Players also reported that in-game tunables were tweaked, apparently in an attempt to prevent any RP hacking from happening. However, it looks like this failed and was circumvented by the hackers so quickly that news of the short-lived fix didn’t even make the rounds. The only evidence of its existence were a few undocumented hours of safety and the alterations themselves in the tunables.
Tunables are a vast array of variables which Rockstar can tweak quickly and easily. They are most often used in the distribution of DLC, and are partly responsible for all the leaks that pop up frequently. But they can also be used for emergency, on-the-fly hack fixing thanks to the wide range of mechanics they affect.
The mod menu which included this exploit, known as “Force menu”, is now also reliably detected by the anti-cheat and its users swiftly banned. News of a ban-wave has spread, indicating that this particular menu is a high priority target for the anti-cheat, slapping everyone who might have used the Passive Mode exploit with a banhammer. Thanks to a recent upgrade in the functionality of the cheat detection software, hackers can be banned mid-session, as opposed to only when they are offline.
On the one hand, your money is now safe, but on the other, the issue of the RP hacking still remains. It really comes down to what kind of a mood the hacker is in, but they either bump you down to Rank 1, erasing potentially hundreds of hours of hard work and effort, or jack you up to ludicrous ranks in the several thousand – which could then subsequently trip off the anti-cheat and boot you back to Rank 1.
At the end of the day, the players still suffer thanks to these hacks. While the money exploit was easy enough to plug, since the whole passive mode hospital bill system wasn’t functional in the first place, making its deactivation of little importance, the RP system is pretty central. Comprising one of the game’s core features, anything beyond surface-level alterations is practically impossible.
That said, if you’ve been hit with the RP hack – or the money exploit prior – there is still a way to get your progress back. GTA Online is laden with hidden stats tracking almost every motion in the game, and contacting Rockstar Support about either issue will likely get your money and RP back.
This whole debacle kicked up a rather sizeable storm online, however in the grand scheme of things, the reputation of GTA 5 hasn’t been tarnished in any significant or even moderate manner. Even with the comparatively high number of people hit, the victims are still an impossibly tiny segment of the vast active player base that GTA Online boasts. Most of the people who might buy the game in the future won’t read up on it enough to learn of this particular incident, and won’t know what it was about.
Add to that the fact that the majority of GTA Online’s players are on the current gen consoles, and in the end, for all the fanfare given to this issue, very few people were affected. It was still a serious issue, and people still potentially lost actual, real money thanks to the game’s microtransactions, but this isn’t a game-ending controversy we’re looking at.
Rockstar has already begun rebuilding goodwill with their recent announcement of an upcoming “tax rebate”, which translates to free cash for everyone who logs in before the 30th of April.
All that said, it was hardly a glowing era in GTA Online’s history, and the people still poking support to get back their millions of $GTA are surely not consoled by the fact that they are the minority. The worst thing about this whole situation is that we need to be ready for another similar event sometime in the game’s future.
Each time some major hack like this occurs we’re reminded that the game’s peer-to-peer server architecture set it up for this fate. Pre-launch, one could have realised how successful GTA Online would become (as absurd as that may sound today) and presumably investing in a dedicated server park was decided against.
Due to the P2P nature of the servers, making it any more resistant to hackers is extremely difficult and time-consuming, since the users can muck with the files client-side. The only thing Rockstar can do is try to stay a step ahead of the hackers and remove any potentially exploitable systems from GTA Online before they are used in a similar fashion.
Hopefully they’ve learned their lesson with this, and will have dedicated servers running on all of their future multiplayer projects, Red Dead Online included. As for GTA Online however, we’re just glad that the present danger has passed.
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