Kaspersky launches anti-cheat solution for pro esports tournaments

Because gaming cheats are not all that different from malware, Kaspersky launches esports anti-cheat solution.

e-sports gaming

Image: Fredrick Tendong

Cybersecurity software maker Kaspersky Lab, one of the biggest antivirus makers today, launched this week an anti-cheat solution for organizers of professional esports tournaments.

Currently, Kaspersky's anti-cheat solution supports two games -- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG).

Named Kaspersky Anti-Cheat, Kaspersky's new platform made its debut at the StarLadder Berlin Major 2019, a professional CS:GO esports tournament that took place between August 23 and September 8 in Berlin, Germany.

Local client & web-based dashboard

According to Kaspersky, this new platform is a cloud-based offering consisting of a client app for gamers and a web-based dashboard for tournament organizers.

The general idea is that the client, installed on players' computers, would detect attempts to tamper with a game's normal mode of operation and report any issues to a web-based dashboard.

Tournament organizers or game match referees can rely on the alerts sent to the web dashboard to ban and disqualify players before they make it too deep into qualifier or tournament rounds.

Specifically designed for esports tournaments

The software was specifically designed for organizers of esports tournaments and is not a standard anti-cheat solution like Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC), BattlEye, or the older PunkBuster.

It was designed to protect the integrity of esports tournaments, which are becoming more and more popular, attracting viewers and participants that many times rival or outmatch classic sporting events.

In recent years, the large money pools offered at esports tournaments have attracted players that tried to cheat.

While the actual tournaments are mostly cheater-free, because participants use standard computers supplied by the organizers, the qualifier rounds are usually very problematic.

Players playing from home, spread across the world, sometimes resort to cheats to help improve their chances of making it into the final rounds. Just making it out of the qualifying rounds can secure cash rewards of thousands of dollars, a tempting prize for many gamers.

"Many players may cheat to earn real money from prize places or to qualify for tournaments," said Alexander Chegrinez, chief business development officer at StarLadder. "This growing tendency can undermine confidence in the eSports industry and decrease the popularity of online tournaments."

Cheats are just another form of malware

Kaspersky said that designing the new Kaspersky Anti-Cheat platform wasn't such a big stretch from its daily work of fighting malware and hackers.

"Cheating in professional esports is basically another cyberthreat, and software cheats are not all that different from malware," said Kaspersky's Nikolay Pankov.

"Our solution is cloud-based for real-time monitoring of attempts to cheat during competition, providing judges with technical confirmation of the use of cheats," he added. "Although the final verdict comes from a human judge, the system makes it easier to determine whether a player cheated."

"And, crucially, our system has no impact on performance or gameplay; all number-crunching is done on cloud servers, not on players' machines."

Tournament organizers can inquire about Kaspersky's new service on the Kaspersky Anti-Cheat homepage. The service is only available for PCs.

A 2018 survey from Irdeto found that one in three gamers confessed to cheating and only 12% of gamers never had their multiplayer gaming experience spoiled by a player using cheats.