It’s extremely difficult for (non-pro) Korean League of Legends players to recover hacked accounts

League of Legends account hacking has become a more discussed problem in South Korea lately, as a handful or professional players have had their accounts compromised — and amid horror stories of regular players trying to retrieve their accounts going public.

A Korean League of Legends player’s five month journey of getting back his hacked account that was permanently banned for using illegal software recently made rounds on Inven, one of the largest online community forums in Korea. The story revealed the difficult amount of obstacles regular players must go through to prove their innocence after their accounts get permanently banned as a result of actions of hackers.

When accounts get hacked, it’s common for a user to get permanently banned as a result of the hacker doing illegal activities with the account. The process of un-banning account is difficult and lengthy. When affected players go to Riot Support to submit a ticket, they are then told by Riot to acquire evidence of the hacking and a police report recording a cyber crime. Filing a police report is often a time-consuming process, and that is assuming the police has enough to conduct an investigation. In the case mentioned above, it took five months to obtain all the necessary documents.

Dealing with account hacking is also a bit more difficult in Korea than other regions because all online games and most Korean websites necessitate the users to confirm their identities through one of two channels. The first is through a personal cell phone, which has the player’s personal information associated by way of a telephone bill under the user’s name. The second is through opening a bank account with a Korean bank and receiving identification with the personal information a person puts in. Having one of those venues compromised means that in the case of a hack, personal information is revealed, then stolen. Any accounts that are permanently banned are then associated with the personal information of the player, banning them from making any new accounts with the same information.

Seeing as how a permanent ban means a life ban of a Korean player, it would make sense for Riot to pay more attention to hack prevention or helping out players that were the victim of hacks, but that hasn’t been the case.

There have been multiple other players who have been victims of these hacks who also try to contact Riot to get assistance, but the responses from Riot Support were bordering on blame shifting. This Inven post included a screenshot of a response from Riot Support. The translation of the part underlined in red and the following sentence is as follows:

“Regrettably, although the (bannable offense) was not done by you, because the penalty was given out to the account that was found guilty, it is difficult to remove or assist removing the ban on your account. We also hope that you pay a little more attention to your account security so that this does not happen in future.”

To add insult to injury, Riot offers no two-step verification or authenticator that can help players protect their account, especially when one hack could spell the end of your League of Legends adventure.

The risk of hacking isn’t limited to just regular players, though, as multiple Korean pros have confirmed that there accounts have been victims of hacks in recent weeks. Longzhu Gaming’s mid laner Shin “CoCo” Jin-Young confirmed this during his stream and Samsung Galaxy support, Cho “CoreJJ” Yong-In confirmed it in game. Most recently, Royal Never Give Up’s Cho “Mata” Se-Hyoung posted on his Facebook account that his account was hacked. The pros’ ability to continue paying, though, has caused angst among the rest of the community not afforded that luxury.

As a response to the rampant hacking, Daily Sports’ Lee Si-Woo reported that Riot announced that it will be run a “change your password” campaign this month, and as an incentive, players will receive 1 Hextech Chest per account password changed. Furthermore, accounts that were inactive for more 30 days are put under added protection, which can be reclaimed through identity verification, and will be directed to a window where they must change their password to claim their free chest. In the announcement, Riot also said it is planning to put in programs to alert the users when personal and email verification information gets changed. On a more long-term basis, Riot is considering implementing One Time Password, two-factor verification.

The recent stories don’t take into account any hacked accounts that can’t find the right amount of evidence and just have to suffer the consequences of a permanent ban. Some users are told by the police that no real investigation can take place if the hacking took place in a foreign location, and even if a suspect is found, all the hacker needs to do is claim that it was originally their account in order to throw the case out due to a lack of evidence.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Korean gamers need to register with their social security numbers. That is inaccurate, and the change has been reflected above.

Cover photo: Chris Yunker (flickr)

Slingshot staff writer

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