Ventrilo Harassment Exposed - InformationWeek
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6/20/2007
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Michael Singer
Michael Singer
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Ventrilo Harassment Exposed

What happens when your MMORPG is hijacked by a player with a headset, chat software, and a whole lot of attitude? Duke Nukem, for starters.

What happens when your MMORPG is hijacked by a player with a headset, chat software, and a whole lot of attitude? Duke Nukem, for starters.That seems to be the plight of a handful of computer game enthusiasts engaged in a recent session of Lord of The Rings. While using their headset microphones and an IP-enabled audio conferencing software called Ventrilo, the party was interrupted by someone posing as video game character Duke Nukem.

Using a barrage of canned sayings from the dark glasses-wearing, crew cut, womanizer, the intruder managed to amuse some of the party but ultimately flabbergast one woman to the point of nervous breakdown complete with her own set of expletives and threats of legal action.

Amazingly, the "Duke" persona has been able to execute several of these interruptions and document them on a YouTube account usually with the header: Ventrilo Harassment. Other movie clips used include Jim Carrey in "The Mask," Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Pacino, and various characters from "Aqua Teen Hunger Force."

A word of warning: the Duke Nukem Forever video and the others are ripe with swearing and are not workplace safe.

The YouTube postings also raise a question about securing Ventrilo servers and audio conferencing in general. It seems that most people in the videos are frustrated about how easy the intruder can manipulate the conversation. Many victims seem to scramble to prevent such conversations from happening.

On the Ventrilo forum boards, a user by the name of Captain Voltano had a similar problem in one of his games. His network was invaded by someone flinging racial slurs and screaming obscenities.

His gut instinct was to ban the user name and IP only to have the offender return to continue with more the same.

"We also assigned passwords to the bad users in hope to slow them down but they still return," Captain Voltano said.

Ventrilo's Super Moderator suggested that all users insist on a password for the server or as a last result... banning an entire subnet. However, the last action could "impact legitimate clients." The Moderator also suggests that if gaming administrators continue to see the same harassers again and again, that there is a high probability that someone on the inside is leaking the password out.

So, my question is twofold. How rampant is this type of harassment? And if we go by the premise that as goes the gaming world, so does the rest of the Internet... what does this say about the potential this bully behavior may have on voice over IP (VoIP) servers?

Feel free to post your thoughts below.

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