As I See It

 


Take yer shields down, we're going to play a game! And what a game it is!

Editorial by R.F. Mariano 01/23/04

Recently, in preparing to install a very popular PC game Call of Duty, we discovered an alarming situation. Today, we all the know the Internet is highly populated with baddies; Trojans, worms, viruses, malicious scripts and who knows what's next.  Yet this NEW game seems to ignore the serious potential of danger this proliferation of baddies offer.

While the game itself seems to be well written, one major flaw came abruptly to our attention.

COD (Call of Duty) is based on the Q3 engine and that's a good thing. The game itself is the best we've seen since Quake 3. However, since this game offers an option in multi-player mode to actually serve the game on the Internet, (allowing other players from all over the world to join in), we wondered why there are seemingly no protections either written into the game aimed at prohibiting the above mentioned Net threats from attacking the serving or user's computer or hooks allowing the use of the top antiviral and firewall software.  Rather odd, that folks are deliberately left wide open to attack after attack.

Here's what we are talking about; In doing a search in Activision's customer support database, we found article 11906, Dated 12/09/03.. based on a search for error code: "WSAEAddrNotAvail".

Sorry Bunky, Kill your Firewall!
"Activision does not support the use of our games from behind a Firewall."

Question:
When trying to connect to a server, I receive the message; "Sys_SendPacket: WSAEAddrNotAvail" in the console.

Answer:
Be sure your computer is not behind a software or hardware firewall of any kind. This includes firewalls built into routers or other equipment, as well as programs like Zone Alarm, Black Ice and the integrated firewall in Windows XP. Activision does not support the use of our games from behind a Firewall. If it is not possible to disable the firewall you will need to open the ports for Call of Duty. Call of Duty transmits and receives network traffic on port 28960 using both TCP and UDP. The exact details on opening a port is specific to your firewall. For more information check with the firewall documentation or manufacturer.

Another common cause of problems is a poorly configured router or connection sharing solution. If you are using a router, ICS, NAT or a software gateway you may have problems playing on the internet. This is because the router may not be forwarding the correct information back to your machine. It may be possible to get around this problem using port forwarding or DMZ. You can find more information on configuring shared connections for multiplayer gaming at www.practicallynetworked.com. Please be aware that like a firewall we cannot actively support using shared connections to play online.

The most common cause of problems though is usually the simplest - an overburdened network stack. By default many computers have protocols the average person doesn't use; things like VPN or NDISWAN. You may want to contact your ISP to find out exactly which protocols you can safely remove. Often times network game problems are resolved by something as simple as removing unused adapters and protocols.

The problem may also be related the the status of your ISP or that of the server. Due to the dynamic nature of the internet and the variable levels of traffic, it is impossible to completely eliminate this error. If you are having persistent problems you may wish to try a different server, or just wait and play a little while later. 

That's it..... always blame the poor old ISP.  Talk about passing the buck! After extensive testing, we found that the message mentioned above went away only after the Firewall was disabled!!  This is a disaster waiting to happen. How many online gamers are there?  And..... they wonder why Viruses, Worms and Trojans proliferate so rapidly. Shame on you Activision.

Don't Blame Lazy Users For Not Using Protection, Blame BAD* Programming

We found this situation exceptionally disturbing...  "does not support...."  So disturbing that we are flabbergasted at such a lousy attitude toward Internet Security.  What in heaven's name is Activision thinking?  Could it be that their mickey mouse protection scheme of how it calls home and verifies a user's serial number could be the culprit and.... that Activision is either too lazy or too cheap to re-plan/re-write such a scheme?   We don't know, we called to inquire and Activision hasn't returned our call.  So much for responsive support.

Often we surmised that the rapid spread of worms, viruses and trojans was due to lazy users.  How very wrong we were.  Its due to companies whose software obviously demands that users remove, disable or otherwise take their protections down.  This, in our opinion is idiotic!  Activision and any other game publishers demanding such are doing a grave disservice to the Internet community on a large scale. 

We believe the agencies involved in Internet Security, (Both Fed and Private), should take action relative to such situations as it clearly offers a path of least resistance to all who participate in online gaming.  We cannot tell how many other online games demand the disabling of firewalls but we are willing to bet most do.

You can do your part too!  Write a letter or send an Email to Activision's support group demanding they fix that nonsense and allow the use of firewalls to protect your computer while using your expensive, bought and paid for Activision software online.
 

* BAD = Broken As Designed