The EVE Security Taskforce & Report a bot | EVE Online

The EVE Security Taskforce & Report a bot

2011-08-16 - By CCP Pollux

Hello EVE Community,

Since this is my first post I would like to use this opportunity to introduce myself to the community. Some of you may already know me from the Security Presentation CCP Sreegs and I did this year at Fanfest. For those who don't, my name is CCP Pollux, and I am a Senior Security Specialist and a member of the EVE Security Task Force.  I joined CCP in February, and my job since then has been to identify and address software vulnerabilities and to design and implement various kinds of security related software functionalities/solutions into the EVE Server and EVE Client.

In the past months the EVE Security Task Force has been assigned various tasks related to security issues, but one of the main tasks this team has been given was to develop new systems and tools to identify, classify and track various kind of unfair player activity. The goal was to simplify and improve the daily mission of hunting down those who, for one reason or another, disobey the rules of EVE and cheat.

One particular type of cheating that the ESTF has been focusing its attention on is programs that automate EVE's gameplay on behalf of a player, or bots. In the past months of our war against the bots, we have been constantly identifying and tracking players using different types of bots, enforcing our policies and giving them their time off from New Eden.

In this blog, we will present you with how to use the Report Bot feature we have recently added to the EVE client.

| The Report Bot Feature

We recently added the Report Bot feature into the EVE Client. This feature should provide everyone with a straight forward way of reporting Bots right from within the game.

| How to report a bot ? In order to report a player as being a bot you will have to carry out three simple steps.

  1. Open the Character Information Window (Fig.1).
  2. Select the Report Bot entry from the Actions Menu (Fig.2)
  3. Confirm the submission of the report (Fig.3)

To bring up the Character Information Window, right-click on the Character you want to report and select "Show Info" from the Menu. You should now see the Character Information Page as shown in the picture below (Fig.1):


Click on the Actions Menu on the upper-left side of the Character Information Window, and select "Report Bot" from the Menu as shown in the next picture (Fig.2):


By now you should see the Confirmation Window as shown in the picture below (Fig.3), asking you to confirm the submission of the report. Click "Yes" to confirm or "No" to cancel the submission. 


That is all you have to do to report someone as a bot, all from within the game! Easy isn't it? We surely hope it is.

Now, the players reported using this feature are automatically investigated. If a reported player is identified as being a bot, the following policies are enforced:

  • First offense: 14 days ban
  • Second offense: 30 days ban
  • Third offense: Permanent ban

Note that updated policies regarding botting and other various types of cheating can be found on the policies page available on our forum.

| When to report a bot?

Bots are all about rules (events, states, conditions, transitions, actions) and goals! A bot reacts to events according to a predetermined limited set of rules, triggering appropriate actions in response in order to meet its goals. In a world otherwise driven by human players, most of the times this rule based behavior can be observed under close investigation.

Therefore, before submitting a report, we encourage players to perform a brief but structured investigation.

  • Observe the behavior of the player and break it down into stages of processing (States, Conditions and Actions)

    • Break down the behaviour into states
      • What is each individual phase of the activity a subject carries on ?
      • Consider each phase a "State"
      • Example of states : "Idle, Docked, Warping, Mining, Hunting, etc"
    • Break down the behaviour into conditions
      • When does the activity of a subject change ?
      • Consider each change one or several "Conditions" that has been met and a transition to another "State" 
      • Example of conditions : "if state is mining and cargo is not empty then; if state is mining and ship is targeted and enemy is not NPC then; etc"
    • Break down the behaviour into actions
      • How does the subject carry on his activity ?
      • Consider each individual operation or group of operations carried out by a subject as an Action
      • Example of an action in a certain state when a certain condition has been met : "if state is mining and ship is targeted and enemy is not NPC then warp (to safe spot); etc"
  • Try to determine if the player you are observing seems to act repetitively according to a strict set of rules (for example, executing the same steps over and over for an extended period of time)

  • Try to determine its goals

  • Challenge the rules (try to think of possible triggers that would cause it to respond in a certain way if it is truly automated)

  • Trigger events and perceive reactions (does it respond to communication? How does it react to being locked or being warped in on? Does it react the same every time, for example by warping always in the same direction before returning to the exact same spot minutes later?)

  • Finally, use your human intelligence to determine whether it is a soulless automaton or simply a fellow, single-minded player.

*** Note**
There are different types of bots, each type having other rules according to which they carry on their activity. Try to adapt your investigation to the type of bot you are observing.

| Abuse and consequences?

By the time of writing this blog, we have received more than 500 reports from players using this feature.  While some players successfully managed to report players who were bots, some players used this feature to report players who were far from being bots. There is a difference between not being able to distinguish a bot from a human and the clear intent to report players out of any other interests.

We strongly recommend against using the Report Bot Feature with any other intent than the one it has been designed for. Abuse of this feature will have consequences.

More to Come

In addition to this blog, we will soon release a dev blog about Automations that we encourage everyone to read. It describes Automated Game Agents such as Bots and Macros in much greater detail, including the principles, concepts and techniques used to bring them into existence, how they work and what their limitations are. It is meant to give everyone hints on how to differentiate Automated Game Agents from human players right from within the game.

Of course, if you have any questions, shoot!

Fly safe,
on behalf of the ESTF,

CCP Pollux