The new competitive FPS multiplayer game, Valorant, has been hitting the streaming world by storm recently, thanks to a brilliant marketing campaign that gives out Beta keys for watching certain streamers on the Twitch platform. Whilst it may be one of the most popular multiplayer games as of right now, there’s something concerning that’s lurking behind the curtains…
Valorant uses an extensive anti-cheat program to prevent hackers and cheaters from exploiting the game, but what they don’t tell you is that this anti-cheat software installs down to the kernel level on your system, essentially giving it the highest level of access available to your PC, even higher than the default administrative access that Windows itself will allow.
This could be considered extremely invasive, and I’m sure Riot Games would never use this to exploit it’s many players in Valorant, but the anti-cheat software highly resembles a rootkit, a form of malware, and that is pretty problematic.
But unfortunately it doesn’t end there. Not only does this rootkit-style software install on your PC, it even initiates on startup and runs when you’re not actively running Valorant, and reportedly even negatively impacts the performance of other games outside of Riot Games’ library.
Now Riot Games have come out to say that you can uninstall this program if you so want to, but that this will prevent you from playing the beta anymore. On the flip side, if you decide to uninstall the beta yourself, it will not uninstall the system kernel and you’ll still have to do that manually.
This should also become more worrying when you take into account that Riot Games is fully owned by Tencent, a multinational Chinese tech conglomerate that specialises in various tech/internet related services and products including entertainment (such as video games), artificial intelligence and technology. So with that in mind, this system level kernel could potentially be used as a way to track data of users, which is highly valuable to a massive tech company.
So there is some good news at least, as of right now there is now harm that will come out of this - just some serious data privacy issues - and will probably never turn into something much worse. However, it is a possibility and should not be ruled out that this rootkit can be treated as a backdoor to your system and be abused by hackers or other third-parties.
In short, downloading Valorant will give full access to your system to a Chinese tech company, if they so wanted.
What do you guys think? Have you downloaded Valorant? Have you had some experience with this kernel? Do you think it could potentially be harmful? Let us know your thoughts!