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The 'chetos', the doping of video games: why it is so easy to cheat while playing

“It seems the worst in the world and suddenly it is Jesus Christ Superstar,” shouts youtuber Vicens in a video about a hacker in Fortnite, a video game that in 2020 it had 80 million monthly players. “I hope this guy is banned for life. If there is something that ticks me of a video game is that the company itself does not ban [suspenda] the hackers ”, he adds. Vicens' video is from March 2020 and has been seen by 1.7 million people.

It is not difficult to cheat in video games: shoot through walls, always hit the head of the enemy, do not lose life. You don't have to be a hacker , just go to the right forums and want to cheat. A new scientific article analyzes more than 10 million posts from two of the largest English forums, MultiPlayer Game Hacking (MPGH) and UnknownCheats, to find out how it is marketed. Both communities have been operating since 2007 and the analysis includes approximately a decade of information, until June 2020. In total they have found almost 700,000 registered users, although only a tiny percentage create and share traps: around 1% in each community offers this type of files, which does not imply that they are their creators. A substantial part of that small group has shared more than one.

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This type of hacks are so common that in Spanish they have his own word: chetos, which comes from the English cheat , literally trap. Each forum has subcommunities dedicated to different video games. There is something for everyone, although the creators of chetos tend to specialize in one. The article cites the most popular video games of the last two years in each forum and there is everything: Counter Strike, Grand Theft Auto, Fortnite, League of Legends, Rainbow Six, Minecraft, Apex Legends or Escape From Tarkov, among others.

“The chetos literally ruin video games,” says Eric Diablo Murillo, director of the eSports club KPI Gaming. “As a player of course it shows. It depends only on what the other wants to sing . There are people who want to hide it a bit, but others go flying and hitting headshots ”, he adds. The article focuses only on free chetos , but the authors emphasize that in private chats the same authors can sell more sophisticated things.

Video games have their most public part in eSports tournaments. There it is more difficult to find these types of traps because there are contracts and agreements between teams. If they catch a player with chetos it is the same as hooking someone doped in the Champions League: their expulsion is irremediable for tarnishing the honor of many involved. The challenge of cheaters is easier when they are amateurs or in smaller tournaments, where there are not so many eyes or analysis. “Sometimes you lose a game in a tournament qualifier and you ask yourself: but why did I lose, because they beat me or because they used chetos ?”, Says Murillo . “They do this because that's how they have fun,” he continues. “They are people who are bad at playing and they play chetos and thus win. Also because they raise your ranking. ”

A problem for the sector

Many of these video games have amateur player ratings and leagues to better suit online rivals of the same level. The chetos allow a regular player to upgrade. Video game companies are the first interested in that their products are not filled with cheats that cause others to flee. “Valorant sold that his anticheats was very good. Sometimes a hacker comes in and they stop the game and say hacker detected . That is if they catch him, if you don't bother yourself, ”says Murillo. In others they almost beg not to be used: “A video game called Super People has just come out where you jump on a parachute and on the canvas the developers have written: “ no hacks, no cheating ”. As if to say please don't break the game ”, adds Murillo.

This type of forum is not hidden in any dark web or in encrypted apps. They are just one click away from Google or any other browser. Whoever wants can also register. No special skills are required. Nor to install the trap on the computer, which has its own interface. “Many are easy. The injection to modify a video game is a simple process that is executed in memory and injects as one more function of the video game with a different purpose ”, says Sergio Pastrana, researcher at the Carlos University III and one of the authors of the article.

As in other technological fields where a lot of money and users move, the activity of chetos does not look diminishing. “As long as something serious does not happen for infrastructure or national security, it is a serious problem for the video game industry,” says Pastrana. “At this level it's a cat and mouse game. They are very lively forums ”. This activity sometimes evolves into bigger challenges: “These users have a lot to do with hacking. They also know how to do malware . The Crime Agency in the United Kingdom many people who caught with cybercrime came from the world of video games. You start to make friends who know how to do other things and they recruit you right away ”, explains Pastrana.

It is clear that the small group of users of these forums that create these chetos may have a promising career in cybercrime. “This is not taught to you in the university or in a college. You have to know even more than what it takes to develop them. Accessing the guts of a video game and knowing how to modify it requires knowledge ”, says Pastrana.

So much so, that the technical access needs that video game companies require in its users are enormous: “There are anticheat techniques that are intrusive, that have to control your computer with certain levels of privilege in the system to know that you are not doing anything wrong in the video game ”Says Pastrana.

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