Blizzard announced a new tool in the arsenal of measures to combat account theft, their authenticator. In short, you buy the authenticator for a small sum of money, tie it to one or more Blizzard game accounts, and from then on, whenever you want to log in, you will be prompted to type in not just your username and password, but also a short authentication code.
The authenticator should be a little RSA-like device which generates a new random code every minute or so, akin to what many banks are providing for e-banking. This will immediately make keyloggers moot – the key will be long expired by the time the information they provide is being used.
That doesn’t make WoW accounts hack-proof, by the way. It just raises the difficulty of doing so by several notches. Considering that at the same time, due among others to the new dailies, wow currency prices are dropping faster than ever, what we have here is a concerted approach by Blizzard to make the cost of cracking an account way too high compared to the potential profits it could generate.
But let’s not fool ourselves. By that same measure, as soon as the “optional” authenticator starts spreading, the pressure on the accounts not using it will intensify big time. As the pool of easy target decreases, attempts of account theft on them will start to multiply.
If you value your accounts at all, and I know you do, you’ll be well advised to buy the authenticator as soon as possible. If that’s not immediately possible, here’s a practical recommandation to limit your exposure a bit.
Go and download Ubuntu 8.x
You can now either burn it on CD then boot on it, or mount it using daemon tools, then run it under Windows and launch the “lite” installation version. In that case, it won’t repartition your hard drives, it will just install like a normal windows application and then show up as a Windows boot option when you restart (you can later deinstall it simply by using the windows control panel’ add/remove program option).
In either case, run Ubuntu, then launch Firefox and change your password regularly. Very regularly. Weekly.
Yes, I’m saying that you should download a full 700 MB ISO of a perfectly good operating system just for the sole purpose of changing your password weekly. Why Ubuntu? Because it’s so simple that even a half-wit like me can use it. And if I can do it, you all can.
Too much of a hassle? Fork out the money for the Blizzard authenticator. It’s only optional until it launches.