Electronics Arts (EA) is launching a new kernel-level anti-cheat system for its PC games. The EA AntiCheat (EAAC) will debut first in FIFA 23 later this fall and is a custom anti-cheat system developed in-house by EA developers. It’s designed to protect EA games from tampering and cheaters, and EA says it won’t add anti-cheat to every game and treat its implementation on a case-by-case basis.
“PC cheat developers have increasingly moved into the kernel, so we need to have kernel-mode protections to ensure fair play and tackle PC cheat developers on an even playing field,” explains Elise Murphy, senior director of game security and anti-cheat at EA. “As tech-inclined video gamers ourselves, it is important to us to make sure that any kernel anti-cheat included in our games acts with a strong focus on the privacy and security of our gamers that use a PC.”
Kernel-level anti-cheat systems have drawn criticism from privacy and security advocates, as the drivers these systems use are complex and run at such a high level that if there are security issues, then developers have to be very quick to address them.
EA’s anti-cheat system will run at the kernel level and only runs when a game with EAAC protection is running. EA says its anti-cheat processes shut down once a game does and that the anti-cheat will be limited to what data it collects on a system. “EAAC does not gather any information about your browsing history, applications that are not connected to EA games, or anything that is not directly related to anti-cheat protection,” says Murphy.
The problem is that you can’t actually see what they are doing because it’s kernel level. It’s your OS running on your PC, they have no right to inflitrate your PC at this level – aside from it being dangerous from a security standpoint. This is a bit like putting a guy into each room of your house and saying it’s no problem, hopefully they won’t steal anything and most likely they won’t tell anyone what you are doing and what you are talking about. And they probably leave some when you are not using your house.