Update: Valorant’s Always-On Anti-Cheat System Can Now Be Turned Off
Download Update: Valorant’s Always-On Anti-Cheat System Can Now Be Turned Off for FREE
Riot has responded to player concerns over Valorant’s always-on anti-cheat software, and has implemented a switch that allows the Vanguard system to be turned off while you are not playing the game.Senior software engineer at Riot, Nemanja Mulasmajic, explained on Reddit that the new change provides “more visibility and control over” the Vanguard anti-cheat software. The update places an icon in your system tray (down by the clock on your Windows taskbar) and from there you can turn off Valorant’s anti-cheat at any time.“Turning off Vanguard puts your machine in an untrusted mode and will prevent you from playing Valorant until you reboot,” says Mulasmajic.
The same system tray icon will also let you uninstall Vanguard entirely. However, you will still need it installed to play Valorant, and so booting up the game will automatically reinstall it. Basically, Vanguard still operates like it did before – it needs to be active from the moment your system boots for you to be allowed to play Valorant – but these new options mean you can keep it turned off or uninstalled entirely while not playing, should you have concerns or if Vanguard is accidentally blocking some software you use.
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Update 04/21: Riot has offered further explanation as to how Valorant’s anti-cheat system works, and the benefits it offers.
Talking to IGN, Riot’s anti-cheat lead for Valorant, Paul Chamberlain, said “Vanguard has made it easier for us to fight cheats in two ways: first, the protection mechanisms in Vanguard make it more difficult and time consuming to create cheats. Second, Vanguard was designed in a way that lets us respond quickly to emerging threats; we don’t need to wait for a game update to update our anti-cheat systems, so we can roll out new protections and detections as soon as they’re ready. We’ve built Vanguard to be an ever-improving platform, rather than a once off product, so from here Vanguard is going to continue to improve.”
While Valorant has new anti-cheat technology that runs continually even when you’re not playing, this hasn’t prevented early hackers from breaking into the game. This has happened much sooner than Riot had expected. “To be honest I was caught off guard by how much interest there’s been in the game and how quickly cheat developers turned their attention to us,” he said.
“My estimate before launch was that we’d see our first real cheats within the first 2 weeks of the beta; it turns out I was optimistic and instead we only had a few days of quiet before we had to be working at full steam ahead.”
Riot is now offering up to $100,000 as a reward to hackers who can reveal the security weaknesses in Valorant’s anti-cheat software.
Riot has revealed why its new anti-cheat system for Valorant runs all the time on users’ PCs, even when the game is not being played.
As part of a currently 1,700 comment-long Reddit thread about Vanguard, the anti-cheat system that protects Valorant, Riot’s Paul Chamberlain – known as RiotArkem on Reddit – explained why it is important to have the anti-cheat kick in the moment you turn on your PC. In short: it is impossible for cheaters to run any cheat software before the anti-cheat loads up, which is a common way cheaters exploit other anti-cheat solutions that only run when a game is active. And no, it’s not spyware.“Vanguard contains a driver component called vgk.sys (similar to other anti-cheat systems), it’s the reason why a reboot is required after installing. Vanguard doesn’t consider the computer trusted unless the Vanguard driver is loaded at system startup (this part is less common for anti-cheat systems),” said Chamberlain.
“This is good for stopping cheaters because a common way to bypass anti-cheat systems is to load cheats before the anti-cheat system starts and either modify system components to contain the cheat or to have the cheat tamper with the anti-cheat system as it loads,” he added. “Running the driver at system startup time makes this significantly more difficult.”
Importantly, Chamberlain emphasises that even though Vanguard is constantly running while your PC is on, it “does not collect or send any information about your computer back to us. Any cheat detection scans will be run by the non-driver component only when the game is running.” Essentially, while Vanguard is constantly running, it is only active while Valorant is active.
Gameplay Screenshots of Valorant (Closed Beta)
It’s understandable why people are wary of a new piece of software running constantly in the background of their PC; that’s effectively the basic recipe for spyware. We’re all concerned about companies tracking our digital footprints and gathering data about us, and so it’s easy to be suspicious when new tech looks akin to what we’ve been told to avoid. In this case, however, it looks like Riot’s intentions are purely on ensuring Valorant is free of cheaters.
For more on Valorant, check out our review-in-progress of the newly launched 5v5 shooter from the studio behind League of Legends. And if you’re in the closed beta yourself, then check out our Valorant tips and tricks guide.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Entertainment Writer. You can follow him on Twitter.
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