EA announces kernel-level anti-cheat system for PC games

EA has a new custom anti-cheat system for PC
EA’s new anti-cheat is coming in FIFA 23 first. | Artwork by Alex Castro/MovieBeat

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 all game and deal with its implementation on a case-by-case basis.

“PC cheat developers have increasingly moved to the kernel, so we need to have kernel mode protections in place to ensure fair play and tackle PC cheat developers on an equal footing” says Elise Murphy, senior director of game security and anti-cheat at EA. “As tech-savvy video gamers ourselves, it’s important for us to ensure that any anti-cheat core included in our games operates with a strong focus on the privacy and security of our gamers who use a pc.”

Kernel-level anti-cheat systems have drawn criticism from privacy and security advocates because the drivers used by these systems are complex and operate at such a high level that if there are security issues, developers have to be very quick to fix them.

Manchester City players in FIFA 23
Image: Electronic Arts
FIFA 23 will be the first game to feature EA’s new anti-cheat system.

EA says kernel-level protection is “absolutely vital” for competitive games like FIFA 23, since existing cheats operate in kernel space, games running in normal user mode cannot detect tampering or cheating. “Unfortunately, the last few years have seen a huge increase in cheats and cheating techniques running in kernel mode, so the only reliable way to detect and block them is to run our anti-cheat there as well,” says Murphy. .

EA’s anti-cheat system will work at the kernel level and will only work when a game with EAAC protection is running. EA says its anti-cheat processes stop once a game is over, and anti-cheat will be limited to the data it collects on a system. “EAAC doesn’t collect any information about your browsing history, apps that aren’t connected to EA games, or anything not directly related to cheat protection,” Murphy explains.

Kernel-level anti-cheat systems are becoming more and more common these days. Activision launched its own custom Ricochet anti-cheat system in Call of Duty last year with a kernel-level driver, and the world’s biggest PC games have used similar techniques to combat an increase in hackers and cheaters in recent years.

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