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WoW Real ID

Common Myths About WoW Real ID


For players of World of Warcraft (WoW), it can be frustrating to meet cool players from other realms in dungeon finder but then have no way of contacting them after. Or to discover your friend from school plays WoW, but their level 80s aren't on your server. Blizzard's Real ID program could have solved those issues and provided a safe, in-game way to communicate cross realm. Instead, safety was abandoned and the resulting WoW Real ID is a security nightmare. Despite its many flaws, some are quick to defend (and use) WoW Real ID. Here are a few of the common misconceptions leaving players at risk.

1. I'm only using Real ID for a few friends, so it's not a problem.

With Real ID, there is no such thing as only a few friends. Your first and last name will now appear on the status pages of the friends of their friends and you cannot control this. Friends of friends aren't friends, they are strangers.

2. The email address doesn't display in the Real ID list.

The email address doesn't display, but you have to provide it for the friend to add you. They can easily write it down and give it to others. You're only as secure as your weakest link. And while you may take online safety and privacy seriously, your friends may not. Plus, what happens if you have a falling out with that friend or guild? Are you comfortable with friends turned enemy having your email address (which, after all, is your account name for battle.net)?

3. I can use a different email address for WoW Real ID.

No, you can't. You must use the email address assigned to your Battle.net account, which is the same exact address you must use to logon to WoW, StarCraft, Battle.net, and other Blizzard services.

4. Passwords can be hacked anyway; Real ID doesn't change that.

Passwords can often be hacked quite easily. That's exactly why keeping your username private is so important. But in order to use the Real ID system, Blizzard requires that you send the friend your username (which is your Battle.net email address). So where previously someone would have had to guess both your username AND your password, now they simply need to convince you to be their friend (i.e. give them your username) and then they just have the password left to figure out. Or they can simply ask a friend of a friend to give it to them - widening the possible avenue of social engineering vectors.

5. Battle.net forum posts are optional.

Blizzard has extended Real ID to include Battle.net forum posts. The change impacts World of Warcraft, the upcoming Cataclysm, StarCraft 2, Diablo 2, and Warcraft III. As of July 27, 2010, Blizzard plans to explose players' real names in any forum posts. Unfortunately, avoiding the forums is not always possible, given that customer service and technical support are themselves forums. Indeed, in-game GMs frequently refer players to those forums for game help - making their use less of an option and more of requirement.

6. Real ID is optional.

Only the illusion is optional. Your real name is linked to your toons and already exposed via addons even if you never opt-in or use the Real ID feature. You can test this by running the following:

/run for i=1,100 do if BNIsSelf(i)then BNSendWhisper(i,"RealID whisper from yourself..");break end end

While this only displays your own real name, it does demonstrate the the connection has already been made, without your approval. And that it could be accessible to a third-party addon developer. When Blizzard merges accounts with Facebook (their next move), will the connections to Facebook friends already be pre-established, even if you don't opt in? If so, how will Blizzard/Facebook use that information?

7. The risks to person are being overblown.

Does the name Julien Barreaux ring any bells? He got mad when his online persona was stabbed in a Counter Strike duel. He spent 6 months tracking down his online opponent, after which he stabbed him in his real life chest. And this resulted from a game where anonymity was preserved. How many more Julien's will attack if if takes only 20 minutes to find someone's address thanks to Blizzard's Real ID policy?

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