How to Stop Cheat Engine Memory Hacks and Exploits

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Cheat Engine is a popular open-source tool that allows players to modify a game’s memory data to alter in-game values such as health, currency, and inventory items. While this can be fun for single-player games, it can lead to unfair advantages and game-breaking exploits in multiplayer environments. This article will delve into how Cheat Engine works and how game developers can implement measures to prevent or make it difficult for such memory manipulation.

How Cheat Engine Works

Cheat Engine works by scanning a game’s memory to find the addresses where specific values are stored. For example, if a player has 100 gold in a game, Cheat Engine can scan the game’s memory for the value ‘100’. Once the memory address is found, the player can change the stored value, say from ‘100’ to ‘1000’, effectively giving themselves more gold.

More advanced uses of Cheat Engine involve finding pointers, which are memory addresses that point to other memory addresses where the actual values are stored. This is often necessary because many games dynamically allocate memory, which means the addresses where values are stored can change each time the game is run.

Preventing Memory Manipulation

Preventing or making memory manipulation difficult involves a combination of technical and design strategies:

Server-Side Checks

Server-side checks are a crucial part of preventing memory manipulation. In this approach, the game server, not the client, is the ultimate authority on the game state. This means that important data like player health, currency, and inventory are stored and manipulated on the server, not the client.

For example, if a player attempts to sell an item, the client sends a request to the server to perform this action. The server then verifies the request, checks if the player owns the item, and if so, updates the player’s currency value and removes the item from their inventory. This way, even if a player manipulates their local memory to show they have more of an item than they do, the server’s data will not match, and the discrepancy can be handled accordingly.

However, server-side checks can increase server load and may not be suitable for all types of games. For instance, fast-paced games that require quick response times might suffer from latency if every action needs to be verified by the server. Therefore, it’s important to strike a balance between server-side checks and client-side performance.

Memory Obfuscation

Memory obfuscation involves making it harder for cheat tools to find and manipulate the memory addresses that store important game values. There are several ways to achieve this:

  • Value Encryption: Instead of storing game values as plain numbers, they can be encrypted. This makes it harder for cheat tools to find values because they won’t match the actual in-game numbers. However, this can increase CPU load as values need to be encrypted and decrypted whenever they are read or written.
  • Dynamic Memory Allocation: Instead of storing game values at fixed memory addresses, they can be stored at addresses that change each time the game is run or even while the game is running. This makes it harder for cheat tools to find values because the addresses change.
  • Memory Scrambling: Game values can be split across multiple memory addresses or stored in a non-standard format. For example, a health value of ‘100’ could be stored as ’10’ at one address and ’90’ at another. This makes it harder for cheat tools to find and manipulate values.

Anti-Cheat Software

Anti-cheat software works by monitoring a game’s memory and system processes to detect suspicious activities. They can detect external programs that try to read or write to the game’s memory, alterations to the game’s code, or unusual patterns of system calls.

There are several commercial anti-cheat solutions available, such as BattlEye and Easy Anti-Cheat, which are used by many popular online games. These solutions often include a client component that runs on the player’s computer and a server component that verifies the integrity of the game state.

However, anti-cheat software can sometimes result in false positives, banning innocent players, or be seen as invasive because of the level of system access they require. Therefore, it’s important to choose an anti-cheat solution that is effective, respectful of player privacy, and has good support for addressing false positives.

Expanded Legal Measures

Legal measures can also be used to deter cheating. This can include clauses in the game’s terms of service or end-user license agreement (EULA) that explicitly prohibit cheating and the use of cheat software. Players who violate these terms can be banned from the game, have their accounts suspended, or face other penalties.

In some cases, game developers have even taken legal action against the creators and distributors of cheat software. This can be an effective deterrent, but it can also be costly and time-consuming.

Furthermore, it’s important to communicate clearly to players what constitutes cheating and the potential consequences. This not only helps deter cheating but also helps maintain a positive and fair gaming community.

In conclusion, preventing in-game cheating is a multi-faceted challenge that requires a combination of technical and legal strategies. By understanding the methods cheaters use and implementing robust countermeasures, game developers can create a more secure and enjoyable gaming experience for all players.

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