Confirmed exploit allows EVE players to sneak up on unsuspecting victims

A nasty exploit has raised its ugly head in EVE Online this week, allowing players to prevent themselves from showing up in the local chat channel. Unless you're in a wormhole system, this channel is meant to show a list of every pilot in the system and must update instantly when a player jumps in. In the deep nullsec regions, the local channel is the primary way a player will know if he's safe or not. If you're alone in the channel, there's nobody else logged on in the system that can attack you. If an enemy fleet rolls by, you'll see a list of names suddenly appearing in the channel and know it's time to get to a safe place. If a pilot were able to somehow hide himself from the local channel, he could sneak up on unsuspecting victims without them knowing he's there.

Skip past the cut for an investigative look at this unsettling development.
The possibility of an exploit came to light on Monday when EVE player "SuperTight5" tried desperately to reconcile his death with what he knew of the game mechanics. Three pilots from Pandemic Legion alliance showed up in the local channel list only three seconds before appearing beside SuperTight5's ship and engaging him. Under normal circumstances, there is no possible way for a ship to warp the distance between any stargate in the system and an asteroid belt within three seconds. If the pilot had been logged off in the asteroid belt SuperTight5 was in, he would have logged in one million kilometres away and warped into the belt, a process which also takes more than three seconds. Theories from forum-users on what might have happened included delayed packets, desynch or network issues causing the appearance of the pilot in local to be delayed.

Russian plot:
In the course of the thread, which has now reached over 30 pages, it came to light that a large number of Russian players had also been attacked by the same group of three pilots. Offenders "The Monkeysphere", "Goose Hypocrisy" and "lol internets" have been recorded as killing over 150 billion ISK's worth of ships together and a look at their killboard details suggests a lot of those kills have been suspicious. Targeting lone Russian pilots hunting NPCs or mining in nullsec, they've somehow managed to catch hundreds of pilots off-guard and suffered minimal losses. Russian players speculated in the forum thread that they were being targeted as they were unlikely to post about it on the official EVE forums and so bring the issue to the attention of CCP. Another theory proposed in the thread was that the three pilots were targeting mostly macro-ratters and macro-miners, which also rely on local to cue them to get to safety.

In their own investigation organised on an off-site Russian forum, pilots from discovered an exploit that the offending pilots may have used. They claimed to be able to consistently replicate a defect which causes pilots not to appear in the local channel and have produced screenshots of it in action. There have also been videos taken of the supposed exploit being used. CCP have yet to comment on the issue but given the high-profile thread, it's certain that they're aware of it. Whether the three pilots named above have been abusing the exploit isn't certain but at this stage there's no doubt that the exploit exists. Earlier tonight, EVE player "huhuhu" gave a practical demonstration of the exploit in use on the EVE test server in front of a large audience, putting to rest theories that the exploit wasn't real. The Monkeysphere and his supporters remain adamant that his success is a result of a legitimate new strategy designed to kill macro users with a high degree of success. Whether the pilots are guilty of using this new exploit or their kills are legitimate, this new exploit is certainly an interesting development in EVE Online.
This article was originally published on Massively.