World Hack fakes 15000 Users
Written by Awportals.com
AWNews Article: [url]http://www.awnews.org/html/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=200[/url]

In 2001 the user 'GAVROCHE' was able to reverse engineer a version of the Active Worlds software in order to remove land and user limitations (making the world as large as AlphaWorld in terms of co-ordinates and allowing an almost unlimited number of simultaneous users. The process of hacking the software was quite simple to those with knowledge of hexadecimal editing and dis-assember language. Infact, 'GAVROCHE' went on to teach other users how to perform such modifications in the illegitimate universe X-Worlds (2003).

As well as removing limitations, 'GAVROCHE' was able to modify the software to repeatedly send messages to the Active Worlds universe server reporting that a user had entered the world. This meant that the world could appear to have as many or as few concurrent users as one would wish, regardless of how many people were actually in the world.

This kind of modification was possible due to a hole in the protocols used by the Active Worlds software. At the time, the universe server did not check that the user that had apparently entered the world was actually inside it (or that the user was even online).

On the evening of July 31st 2001, 'GAVROCHE' executed the modified world server (running as the world 'NEKRANOX' which was owned by user 'GAMER') and began to boost the worlds user count at a rate of approx. 1000 users per minute. The world reached a total of 14,639 users at its peak and shot to the top of the worlds list. This was more users in one world than had even been seen in the Active Worlds universe and soon citizens from all over Active Worlds flooded the world to see what was happening (including AWI staff members E N Z O and Roland).

Owner of the world 'GAMER' recieved a telegram from 'E N Z O' (Active Worlds CEO) within minutes for the stunt. In the telegrams he mocked 'GAMER' for his futile attempts at causing trouble and attempted to make the event seem as insignificant as possible. Active Worlds developer 'ROLAND' was much more interested in the source of the exploit and quickly began conversing with 'GAVROCHE'.

The next day, community website AWNews.org covered the event with an interview with world owner 'GAMER'. In the interview, 'GAMER' remained ambiguous about the source of the exploit and accommodated suggestions that he had a part in the world servers modification. This was met by anger and confrontation from knowledgeable users of Active Worlds who mocked 'GAMER' for taking the credit for another’s work. Despite 'GAMER's actions, 'GAVROCHE' backed 'GAMER's arguments and whilst clarifying that he was the brains behind the operation, he said that 'GAMER' was no less involved in such activities.

Active Worlds user 'SLEEPY E' (who posted on AWNews initially as 'LOC N KEY') was one of the first to oppose 'GAMER's activities. As an experienced reverse engineer himself he felt that such actions sought only to gain fame rather than improve the security of Active Worlds. 'SLEEPY E' later joined 'GAVROCHE' to form a group called the 'Active Worlds Security Team' (AWST) with other likeminded users, with the intent to improve the security of Active Worlds software.

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