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WoW Screenshot Watermarks?

An article called Looking inside your screenshots on Ownedcore alleges the use of digital watermarks in World of Warcraft screenshots that include the player's account ID, a timestamp, and the IP address of the realm where the shot was taken, noting this can be used by Blizzard to identify hackers as well as the location of illicit private servers for the MMORPG. They say they can confirm this functionality was added sometime between 2008 and 2010, and note the concern that this opens up WoW players to potential exploitation. Thanks Ant via Slashdot.

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20. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 12, 2012, 01:38 OldTimber
 
Bit late but finally got around to rooting around in my last install of WoW. This is Wrath to Cata screens and the marks are clearly there in the standard client version. The marks are there once you sift through a few images and sharpen them to the right amount then you know what to look for and can easily be found in others once you know the pattern used.
Pretty much they are aligned in the center portion of screens with ones light on textures the easier ones to pull out, while ones with alot of texturing require a longer look. Think of it like those old stare at posters to pull the image out to understand.

And jacking the quality to 10 to remove them doesn't work, always set my screenshots to the highest setting in the game and they are there.

Probably have some older screens somewhere else but this was my last install of WoW so my older vanilla and BC ones are somewhere else to dig out. I nuked that install when I quit after BC for awhile but kept the screens and decided to keep the last install around on another drive if I get suckered into going back to play.
 
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19. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 12, 2012, 00:52 ViRGE
 
m00t wrote on Sep 11, 2012, 19:22:
It was probably used to identify people breaking NDA for WOTLK. According to TFA it first showed up in early WOTLK alpha builds.
That would be my guess as well. It's a rather smart move on Blizzard's part; this must have made it very easy to ID hackers, leakers, etc. I just hope this isn't the only such tool in Blizzard's chest, as otherwise it's going to suck if they've lost their primary way of IDing violators.
 
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18. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 11, 2012, 20:15 Mr. Tact
 
Woof! Guess I should be running a private WoW server.  
Truth is brutal. Prepare for pain.
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17. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 11, 2012, 19:22 m00t
 
It was probably used to identify people breaking NDA for WOTLK. According to TFA it first showed up in early WOTLK alpha builds.

Re: posting internal IPs on externally visible web pages: Why make it easier for someone who might have compromised one machine to locate other machines to take over? Not saying it would slow them down much, but the less information you share the better.
 
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16. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 11, 2012, 18:33 RailWizard
 
I don't get it. Other than 'because they can' I just don't get it.  
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15. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 11, 2012, 17:35 JohnBirshire
 
Beelzebud wrote on Sep 11, 2012, 13:38:
Good way for them to smoke out private servers... Pretty sneaky shit.

Which is ironic, because they do absolutely nothing to close private servers. The only one I've ever seen closed was Wowscape, and that was only after they discovered the owner was making $500,000 a month off of "donations". But others, like Moltenwow, who make just as much if not more money, have been up for years.
 
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14. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 11, 2012, 16:50 Mr. Tact
 
jdreyer wrote on Sep 11, 2012, 15:37:
At work, we had been adding internal IP addresses of our public facing pages to make it easier to troubleshoot stuff (figure out which webserver was having the trouble, since they're all behind a loadbalancer), but stopped this practice recently due to the security risks.
Wait, what? Adding internal private IP addresses was causing a security problem? You must have left out some information there, having internal and external IPs especially on webservers is pretty standard.
 
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13. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 11, 2012, 16:22 jdwohlever
 
Wouldn't using something like FRAPS or Raptrs screenshot overlay keep the watermark from showing up?
If the watermark is shown all the time then that would be some sort of overlay, which is very easy to bypass as well.
Worse case scenario, alter the contrast or color depth on the image and watermark goes away pretty easy.
I was going to purchase watermark tools for my 3D art until I discovered that they don't actually promise something from being distributed or altered, but rather watermarks are only good for keeping items pristine to prove ownership or that something was unedited.
Editing a watermarked image can easily destroy the watermark at least that has been my experience when testing out various watermark methods.
 
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12. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 11, 2012, 16:01 Creston
 
Well, see? And all of you complained that Blizzard never adds any content for that $15 a month!

Creston
 
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11. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 11, 2012, 15:59 TheEmissary
 
Wouldn't surprise me at all if developers have been doing this. The Film industry also uses watermarks as well to track pirated copies. The question I have about this is the watermark always present in the rendering or just on their screenshot algorithm. If it isn't always available then its easily defeated by using a 3rd party screencapture tool. It also seems like the data would be destroyed when the images get recompressed or transcoded to something else.

 
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10. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 11, 2012, 15:37 jdreyer
 
Yeah, I'd be concerned about exploitation. At work, we had been adding internal IP addresses of our public facing pages to make it easier to troubleshoot stuff (figure out which webserver was having the trouble, since they're all behind a loadbalancer), but stopped this practice recently due to the security risks.

Posting info like this publicly is just asking for trouble.
 
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9. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 11, 2012, 14:59 Kajetan
 
Beelzebud wrote on Sep 11, 2012, 13:38:
Good way for them to smoke out private servers... Pretty sneaky shit.
Considering the VAST numbers of private servers available ... Blizzard is either doing a bad job, or they are not interested in pursuing those servers or this is hoax.
 
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8. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 11, 2012, 14:14 J
 
NKD wrote on Sep 11, 2012, 13:40:
Clever, but easily defeated now that people know its there.
Yeah, they'll never realise we're on to them and adapt. Our secret is safe!
 
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7. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 11, 2012, 13:40 NKD
 
Clever, but easily defeated now that people know its there.  
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6. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 11, 2012, 13:38 Beelzebud
 
Good way for them to smoke out private servers... Pretty sneaky shit.  
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5. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 11, 2012, 13:28 MattyC
 
Verno wrote on Sep 11, 2012, 12:47:
I can understand their motivation in wanting to catch hackers who posted screenshots to websites and whatnot. That said, it seems like a big security risk to attach the account info to something that's posted publicly. I'm sure there is a general ToS clause that covers their ass but it still seems pretty dumb.

Apparently you can defeat it by using a different screenshot quality or compression method.

From what I gathered in the Reddit thread it is mostly just fluff info. Nothing that would risk your account: old log in from before b.net / some string after b.net & WoW server ip.

EDIT: Looks like now people are saying it is just gibberish Blizzard uses internally either way.

This comment was edited on Sep 11, 2012, 14:16.
 
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4. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 11, 2012, 13:05 Endo
 
necrosis wrote on Sep 11, 2012, 12:56:
Probably just EXIF data.
Nope, it's definitely a watermark. If you click the link on Slashdot and read through the whole thread, you'll get a lot more info.
 
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3. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 11, 2012, 13:04 Paketep
 
necrosis wrote on Sep 11, 2012, 12:56:
Probably just EXIF data.

RTFA.
 
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2. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 11, 2012, 12:56 necrosis
 
Probably just EXIF data.  
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1. Re: WoW Screenshot Watermarks? Sep 11, 2012, 12:47 Verno
 
I can understand their motivation in wanting to catch hackers who posted screenshots to websites and whatnot. That said, it seems like a big security risk to attach the account info to something that's posted publicly. I'm sure there is a general ToS clause that covers their ass but it still seems pretty dumb.

Apparently you can defeat it by using a different screenshot quality or compression method.
 
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