Spooky face Windrider Cub says, "Get an authenticator!"
Even though my authenticator died last week after two years of loyal service, I’m still here to write a positive entry about them. I’m not going to repeat what has already been said so well. Gazimoff wrote a great post awhile back busting the myths about authenticators. I agree emphatically with everything that he wrote there, and the post is still worth a read. The arguments for having an authenticator are many, the arguments against are few.
I’m here to tell you about my authenticator in particular, though. I’ve had it a significant chunk of time – since before Wrath came out. Authenticators were out of stock in the Blizzard store back then, and so we actually had ours shipped to us by friends in the UK. (We traded them game-time codes, it all evened out in the end). Back then I didn’t have much of an idea about authenticators. I thought it was something a bit extraneous, and I wasn’t much worried about it. But as other friends told me of the times they had been hacked, I began to be glad I had one.
People had seen their characters stripped of everything, left naked on tables in inns. I don’t think I’ve been in a guild whose bank hasn’t been affected by a hacked player’s account. I’ve seen players devastated at the loss of all of their things – and mortified that their account also took everything from the guild bank. The first time it happened, my lovingly tended guild bank was absolutely gutted. It had so many things in it, everything, really. It was a small friends and family guild so restrictions on withdrawals were non-existent. They took it all.
It was also all returned – eventually. I’m not sure if the delay was on the part of the player submitting the ticket, but it was about a week before we sniffed any of our things again. In my current guild, we’ve had the bank impacted by hackers twice since I’ve been here, and also before I joined. The first time, the hack was so sophisticated that somehow they managed to override the daily withdrawal restrictions. We think it had to do with the date and time – it was changed to fool the server into thinking that the days were different, and so again – everything was gone. That time it was because a guildie had accessed WoW from a hotel internet connection.
The last, most recent time the hacker did not manage to circumvent these securities. They were only able to take two stacks from each tab – so, forty abyss crystals, forty fish feasts, etc. The guildie whose account was affected did all that he could in the interim – copying and pasting his password from a text file and running anti-virus scans on his computer. All of our things were returned very quickly – within a day, and his authenticator was in the mail. Despite all his precautions, he was hacked again before his authenticator arrived.
People with malicious intent towards your WoW account are smart, and they are ruthless. I’ve been happy to have the added security of my authenticator for the past two years. The day it died… well. That’s another story.
You remember the book that I was hoping to get? The last book that stood between me and a Kirin Tor Familiar? Well, it spawned the other day. I never thought I’d see it, and there it was… On Vosskah’s computer screen.
As for me, I couldn’t reach that book – because when I had tried to login ten minutes before the spawn time, my authenticator did something funny. The six digit number froze on the screen. It was the same one as before, and even when I hit the button it wouldn’t go away. I shook it – nothing. It has no opening to change a battery; once it is borked, it’s borked. My authenticator was supremely borked. At this point, I didn’t know that the book would be spawning. I called Blizzard Customer Service to have the authenticator removed from my account. You can’t just take it off yourself when it isn’t working, because it requires two secure codes to do. I was on hold for about six minutes. As I listened to extremely loud music…the book spawned.
I had Voss sit on it. Surely draenei ass would prove sufficient to the task! It could cover the book, right? Just until I got there! It wouldn’t despawn unless someone clicked it.
Someone clicked it before I managed to reach customer service.
Even though the gentleman who helped me was efficient and friendly – by the time we were finished, the book was gone. I was disproportionately upset. The story has a happy ending – a day of dedicated camping the next day yielded the book, and the achievement. My authenticator and Murphy’s Law prevented me from getting the book when I should have gotten it, and I still do not regret having it, not in the slightest.
Show Me Your Corehound
Meantime, since my account was without an authenticator, I immediately passed leadership of the guild to Voss. You see, after this latest hacking, I realized that I had made a mistake. I should have made changes to our guild’s ranks and securities as soon as patch 4.0 made it possible to do so.
For guild leaders, we can now go in and have the option of making specific guild ranks require an authenticator. Lining every one up and having them bring out their Corehound pet seemed a little bit draconian, so we had never done that. But this – this is simple enough. What I did was create a new rank – “Raider II”, to supplement our existing “Raider” rank. This rank is below the original rank. I first demoted everyone to Raider II. Then I ticked the box to require Raider rank to have an authenticator. I went through the list of our raiders promoting each raider that had the option to be promoted. If they didn’t have an authenticator, it wouldn’t let me promote them. Then, I removed bank withdrawal access from the Raider II rank.
I know, it sounds extreme. I actually really hate doing it – I don’t like that some of our raiders will have to ask to get things out of the bank – because it means they probably won’t withdraw much, and they probably won’t ask. I view it as a necessary evil, though. This is the only way I can safeguard the guild against losing the things we’ve worked hard to get – enchanting mats, feasts, and other necessities of raiding. There is a small caveat with this that authenticators recently attached to an account may not necessarily register as existing in game. It can be a 48-72 hour wait before someone can be promoted to a rank that requires an authenticator.
Naturally, having an authenticator is a requirement for officers and guild leader rank as well. So I made Voss interim guild leader and asked him to demote all of my officer characters to a rank that wouldn’t allow them to access the bank. I didn’t want to be a security risk myself while I waited for my new authenticator to come in the mail.
Time is Money, Frrriend
Of course I want to safeguard my own hard work and character’s items/gear/gold. But more than that, I think the toughest thing for people whose accounts are hacked is the impact it has on their friends and guild. I know that our guildies who’ve been hacked have felt terrible. We all work together to put gold and items in the bank and so we take a certain pride in those things. For a mere $6.50, I have an added assurance that all the hours I put into this game won’t be compromised or impact my friends. I can’t say enough about how quickly things were shipped, either. We ordered two athenticators on Friday. They arrived Monday morning via FedEx. Shipping to Canada is expensive, I’ll give you that. The shipping ($10) cost more than an authenticator itself. But, there’s a plus side to this. It gave me the opportunity I’d been wanting to order these guys.
They don't really do much for account security, except a +100 cuteness aura.
Aren’t they adorable?! They come in a fabric satchel emblazoned with the Horde/Alliance logo. I need to find them a place of honour on my desk, and then I’ll probably set one of them up with a way of holding my authenticator for me.
Note: I ordered two because I wanted a backup, and next time I’ll probably swap them over BEFORE the original dies. “Percussive maintenance” didn’t do much good with the first one. They are really solidly constructed. Don’t ask how I know.