Thursday, 2 August 2012

Eve Online: Loose Lips Sink Ships

Today I'm going to discuss Information Security in Eve Online.

First of all, here's how to do it: don't talk.

OK, having got that out of the way I'd like to start picking on today's guinea pig, TurAmarth Elrandir. Tur posted yesterday:

"Then I figured it out... nothing you say here can 'lead back' to a specific wormhole unless you give the name of a system you have a current active hole in, and that info is good for only 24 hours at best..."

Challenge accepted.

First we can simply look for him in People and Places in Eve. Here he is.

We now have his Corp and his Alliance. (Notice that even though I've hidden my character name here I've compromised my avatar's picture and location. It's just so easy to leak intel).

Now let's google his name. The first hit is his blog, then Eve Search which gives an archive of his posts on the official forums, then an old corp's killboard which on investigation had nothing more recent than April but further down the Google page we've got Battleclinic which shows him losing a Mastodon. In J103529 which is a wormhole system because all wormholes systems follow the format J plus 6 numbers. This looks promising. Let's find some details about this wormhole. Static Mapper shows us it's a Class 3 wormhole with a low sec static. We could check that information against information this pilot has discussed on his blog or on the Eve boards but there's something even more basic - let's see if he blogged about losing the Mastodon. Yes, he did. He lost it putting up modules at their POS. In fact we could possibly contact the other pilot involved and ask for or buy intel on which moon the POS is at.

We know where he lives.

OK? So, I hope I've convinced you that we who talk about the game can be found. I'm more careful than Tur but last year when I upset some ninja salvagers they were able to figure out who I was and organise a hunt for me. Every blogger is endlessly compromised.

Next, let's discuss what Turamarth went on to say yesterday:

In the year I have lived full time in holes, I have yet to find ANYONE who knows of ANY mechanic whereby someone could intentionally 'find' a specific W-space system.

I can think of a few. People quite often ask on the Eve Official forums for locations of holes (usually if they've accidentally locked themselves out). And of course they can ask on other Eve forums like Failheap or Kugu or privately on the board of a large nullsec alliance or coalition.

Another method which is sometimes used by the top wormhole pvp corps is called cycling. Suppose you have a class 5 wormhole with a class 3 static. Fly big ships like Orcas or Battleships through the static with the Microwarp Drives turned on a dozen or two times and the hole collapses and a new static is generated. Keep doing this over and over and you're rolling the dice again and again. And eventually it will come up snake eyes for your opponent. (Actually class 3 is probably too low to be worth bothering with this technique. It works best on the higher level wormholes because there are progressively less of each type).

Another method, which Tiger Ears uses a lot, is to keep notes. Quite frequently when reading his blog he'll find a wormhole that he's been to before and taken notes on. If someone notes down "trash these guys when we find their hole" and is constantly exploring wormholes they will find the target eventually.

Of course all this exposure is only dangerous if Eve has players who are vindictive, obsessive and incredibly patient. It has many with the first two qualities but that kind of patience is a minority trait. The reason I felt comfortable exposing Turamarth, who I like, is that I don't believe he's in any danger of being tracked down and wasted. I think there's a quid pro quo too in that if he and his corp move up to a higher stakes form of wormhole existence then they'll need to know this stuff. Hopefully they'll forgive me.

POS bashes are the most unpopular form of pvp in Eve. People can't even be arsed to form up to kick in someone's tech moon pos most of the time. Plus in wormholes you can only bring small ships plus your way in in virtually guaranteed to close before you can put a pos into reinforced mode, wait out the timer, then kill it off. Killing a POS with, say, a fleet of tengu involves persuading at least a dozen people to commit to an op that lasts at least a couple of days most of which is mindnumbingly dull. And for less effort you could conquer a tech moon.

Still it's good to internalise the lesson: if someone with enough resources wants you dead they can get you.

If you graduate to top level wormhole play with someone like Rooks and Kings then kicking in other people's wormhole buildings is very much part of the game - it's the wormhole equivalent of checkmate - and it's good to develop good habits early. And I haven't even mentioned how common it is that researching an Eve character can reveal real life information like real name, phone number and workplace in our increasingly open world. Nobody wants to gank someone then have him order pizzas delivered to your home at 4 in the morning.


  1. You know, I dithered hard over whether or not to blog as 'me' IE Tur... but dammit! This is his story and I just din't want to do it as "Sneaky Pete" the faceless toon...

    And yer right, that method, the whole hangin out in smoky, badly lit, seedy forums asking around to buy a BM to a specific WH, is very much a 'real' danger... though it too has some limitations…

    Holes last at most 24 hours and some only 16, so you’d have to connect up with someone who either found it inside that time or, like Tiger Ears (and me, I don’t tell everyting on das blog…) is constantly probing down the local constellation and will hit your hole again.

    And we don't always just let the holes run their full life either... in Time of War or if we feel a hunch, (we keep tabs on many sources of hole info too... (so far no one has ever asked [a version of me] for HBHI's location...) and we mass close our holes regularly... no BM is good past the second the last Armor Phoon runnin it’s MWD squeezes back thru...

    So... if someone bashes us, either through Target of Opportunity for the Lulz or due to some guy having blogenvy and willing to waste the time and resources necessary... well, we dunt call 'Serenity' a Deth Star for naught, she's loaded for bear, you better bring a bunch... and if we did lose... well, It's EVE... don’t Anchor what you can’t afford to replace… =]

    Our ISK is in the bank not the POS and we have moar ships in Empire than in here... would be a setback, would not be a game ender or ragequit scenario for us... holes is dangerous man!

    And… you know, I have never fired the POS guns in anger… yet…
    [impact knuckles on cellulose] =]

    1. I think you're pretty safe or else I'd not have used you as an example. I'm just making the point really that you're never completely safe in Eve if undocked (and a POS is perma-undocked). I love your adaptation of the popular Eve maxim "don't fly what you can't afford to replace."

      One slight quibble - if someone's out to get you collapsing the hole doesn't help. Once they have a ship inside with probes it's like a cockroach infestation. You only can get rid of them for good if you're lucky or they're careless.

  2. The most direct danger for a wormhole corp is not mass closing (1/500 probabilities, it's small, even with a good team for chain collapsing and a good prober.

    To me, the biggest concern are public intel source like :
    - eve who : everything about your corp AND your members (even the little alt)is available
    - locator agents : the bane of wormholers corp ! But it's the game.

    If I was to attack HBHI, I put every members in watch list.
    If offline, I locate them and find which of you is sleeping outside.
    If online, I locate them and find who is currently going out.
    Locating someone with level 4 agents is easy (everywhere in eve, excepted wormhole), with a timer of 10 or 15 minutes ... except when a locator agent failed because the person is in an hole. Not timer, no depense, no wait.

    When the exit is found, it's time to do hero's prober attack, and try by all means to insert an probing alt in your home. Then, it's a waiting game, and you get probing redundancy with multiple scanning alt.

    And the next step, it's an omaha pos in your system, with a dedicate fleet to man the assault.

    The first POS to explode determine who have won the siege (if it's the staging pos, the enemy will withdraw for the time, if it's the loot piñata ... the defending pos, siege is done).


    PS : And yes, I'm giving you intel if you want. Been there, done that, win some siege, lose another, on both side :) It's a fun event :D

  3. Well... it's EVE...

    Tonight a corp jumped my CEO inna site, 5v1, killed his Kronos with the added Sleeper DPS, he got his pod out, followed by:

    "You have 10 hours to pack and leave." No ransom requested, then:

    "We will anchor a POS soon."

    Hmmm... Interesting. Have no idea if it is in anyway related to our back n forth here... and doesn't matter if it did. Does give me pause as re my in depth blogging about our life in W-space though... but if I can't blog about that, I got nuthin else...

    Seems I may get to use those guns after all... =\

  4. Contact Cyndre or Syncaine. They're in a wormhole merc corp that could help you with your problem.

    Cyndre contact:

    Syncaine Contact

    1. That's certainly a good option and Syncaine has integrity (I'm not always a fan of his, I took him off my blogroll a few months ago but he does have integrity).

      I'd suggest bringing them in if your POS gets reinforced. These guys may not even show, may have already left.

      But sure, if they reinforce your POS then mercs are a good option and these guys are a good choice of merc.