Blizzard Watermarking Screenshots

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Blizzard Watermarking Screenshots

Postby Boyfriend » Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:12 am

So I've seen this on several news sites, but for some reason it has not yet turned up on the one wow related site I used to frequent:

Apparently Blizzard has been watermarking all screenshots taken since Wotlk-Alpha ca. 2008 with unencrypted data containing Account ID, Server IP Address (not client) and Date/Time the screenshot was taken.

(http://www.ghacks.net/2012/09/12/blizzard-watermarking-wow-screenshots/)

If you want to check it out yourself be aware that the client doesn't produce the water mark on screenshots taken with Quality 10 (or TGA), only Quality 9 and below Jpeg.

Openly available software can currently only read your Account ID from screenshots produced when WoW is modified to include the watermark in Quality 10 images, since people have only been working on it a few days.

On the potential impact:
With the data included in screenshots it's not possible to directly access your account, however it can be used to link your characters (on the screenshot) to your Account ID, which can then be (based on the recent leak of the account database) linked to your email address. This information could be used to send targeted phishing e-mails based on your character name and armory data like : "Congratulations on recently completing the XXX achievement, please log in to receive your free mount!" or potentially by very persistent stalkers (email address can then potentially be linked to Facebook accounts etc.)

This doesn't effect me in particular since none of my characters appear on Armory anymore, but if I'd still be playing I'd definitely want to hear about it, even if just to be aware what information is out there.

Blizzard hasn't released any statement on this yet, so there's only speculation on why this watermark is included, however the best guess is that it's for either preventing leaks of Wotlk during the Wotlk alpha, or to find private servers (since it includes server IP).

(Edit: changed link from the forum thread to a news article about it, since I wasn't aware that the forum in question contains some content that might not be appreciated)
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Re: Blizzard Watermarking Screenshots

Postby Treck » Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:33 am

People are so upset about this, but I just dont give a damn.
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Re: Blizzard Watermarking Screenshots

Postby Sagara » Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:49 am

I think the most sensible element is the account ID. It's unique to each of us, but you'd need a matching table to get anything useful out of it.

Right now, I credit it with a "good to know" on my "Insane panic reaction-o-meter".

Out of stupid curiosity, is this account ID a GUID?
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Re: Blizzard Watermarking Screenshots

Postby halabar » Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:50 am

Meh.. I always use the SS ability in OSX anyway, so I can clip it to just what I want. Never have done a in-game SS.
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Re: Blizzard Watermarking Screenshots

Postby Nooska » Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:56 am

I'm a major privacy advocate, but I seriously don't see this as a problem. Sure, you can trawl through millions of screenshots online to try and connect alts, but looking at a ot of players, I see them produly link to their alts in their signatures, so the information is out there already, and a lot more easily accesible.
Account name, emailadress and all that is nowhere in theese watermarks, so how alts can be linked to emailaccounts, well, I don't know (again, the only way the emailaccounts are available to scammers is by spidering wow sites, or by hacking blizzard - the latter gives them more - way more - than the watermarks ever could, and the former they already do - but everybody knows not to use the same email for wow sites a sthey use for their wow account, right?)
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Re: Blizzard Watermarking Screenshots

Postby Shoju » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:12 am

Everything I've read says that the watermark is more like a "QR" code type of thing, and would have to be "figured out" before the information in the watermark is worth anything.

Once I see someone find a way to crack that, then I might... Nope. still wont care that I posted all those SS's.
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Re: Blizzard Watermarking Screenshots

Postby culhag » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:55 am

I'm more upset that it's ruining my beautiful screenshots.
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Re: Blizzard Watermarking Screenshots

Postby Fetzie » Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:32 am

culhag wrote:I'm more upset that it's ruining my beautiful screenshots.


It apparently does not appear in screenshots if you use

Code: Select all
/console screenshotQuality 10


I think it is probably simply to catch out NDA breaking Alpha testers.
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Re: Blizzard Watermarking Screenshots

Postby Volitaire » Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:56 am

As far as the QR code thing yes that is correct but there have been two setups already compiled that will handle this and determine the data located within. It is still a pretty minor thing and really like already said a "good to know" but nothing major. At best someone who wanted to hide their alts could potentially be found out but really even that is pretty minor/unlikely.
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Re: Blizzard Watermarking Screenshots

Postby halabar » Wed Sep 12, 2012 12:17 pm

Or just use other screen-capture tools... :roll:
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Re: Blizzard Watermarking Screenshots

Postby Boyfriend » Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:03 pm

Sagara wrote:I think the most sensible element is the account ID. It's unique to each of us, but you'd need a matching table to get anything useful out of it.


I think the gist is that this table might already be 'out there' since when the Battle.net database was compromised in August, back when the table of e-mail addresses of all accounts were retrieved and password hashes for NA accounts. Though it's unclear if that table contained account ID's or not, since it did contain e-mail addresses and password hashes I'd say it's possible it contained account ID's.

This isn't likely to be a big deal as said leak data is not widely available, so it would only be useful for someone with the cash to buy it, so the worst that could happen is personalized phishing. Or nothing if the August leak doesn't contain account ID's, since web crawling for screenshots just to link alts would not be worth it for any use I can think of.
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Re: Blizzard Watermarking Screenshots

Postby Teranoid » Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:26 pm

Treck wrote:People are so upset about this, but I just dont give a damn.
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Re: Blizzard Watermarking Screenshots

Postby Treck » Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:14 pm

People are like upset that its not in their tos so they didnt know it was beeing tracked.
But come on, who the hell actually reads that? :P
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Re: Blizzard Watermarking Screenshots

Postby Skye1013 » Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:36 pm

I don't think I've ever pulled a SS from the SS folder to post somewhere. If it still has the data after I've pasted/cropped it in paint then whatever I guess.
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Re: Blizzard Watermarking Screenshots

Postby Teranoid » Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:17 pm

It's just one more thing in the fearmongering arsenal of tinfoil hat wearing paranoid people thinking every single thing they do is being watched.

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