New League of Legends Anti-Cheat Will Run at Kernel Level

Published: February 6, 2020 11:30 AM /


League of Legends anti-cheat

A brand new League of Legends anti-cheat system has been detailed, but it also raises some concerns about potential vulnerabilities and Linux users.

A blog post on the League of Legends website goes into a very tech-heavy description of a new anti-cheat system that will be coming to League of Legends and other Riot games. A problem has emerged in recent years where cheat makers are running their applications at the kernel level, which is a thing that would kind of make sense when you consult the following chart:

League of Legends Anti-Cheat kernel chart

Most applications run in the outer ring, typically called "user mode". System drivers and critical systems run at a higher privilege level, a section of your operating system that is typically restricted from most programs.

However, cheat makers have recently been using exploits in Windows' design to run chat programs at these higher privilege levels. Effectively, the current League of Legends anti-cheat can't "see" these programs, allowing cheaters to run rampant.

The new League of Legends anti-cheat will run in the kernel — pretty much the highest privilege level. This should remove the ability for cheaters to get away with their skullduggery, but it also raises some concerns.

Potential Problems with the League of Legends Anti-Cheat

There are a few concerns that are raised with this new shift to a kernel-level application.

One of the most obvious comes down to the Linux players in the community. While Linux is not officially supported for League of Legends, a number of players are still able to make it work nonetheless. This new kernel-level anti-cheat will likely use Windows-based systems that can't work with Linux as noted in this Reddit comment.

While there is no "official" way to play League on Linux, it has been very doable for quite a while now because of compatibility layers, and with near native performance

This update however will absolutely wreck any semblance of a chance to run League on Linux, as it will require a new Windows driver, which will not run on Linux at all.

Another concern (and perhaps a much more dangerous one) is the inherent risk of running any kind of program at the kernel level. As this article describes, vulnerabilities in kernel-level programs can be used as a backdoor to run malicious code. Depending on how it's programmed, there's the risk that the League of Legends anti-cheat could open a backdoor for malware.

The move towards a stronger anti-cheat is a necessary one in Riot's eyes, but it also carries some risks and likely puts an end to the game's Linux community. Hopefully, the coders at Riot will have made this program as secure as they possibly can.

What do you think of the new anti-cheat system coming to League of Legends and other Riot Games? Are you concerned about any possible risks with the program? Let us know in the comments below!

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