My World of Warcraft account is now more secure than my bank account. It is harder to steal 5,000 fake Warcraft gold from me than $5,000 real US dollars. Why? Because unlike my bank, my computer game supports two factor authentication.

About six months ago Blizzard started selling the Blizzard Authenticator to its US customers for the nominal price of $6.50. It's a little keychain fob that generates random number codes that change frequently. Logging in to WoW requires both a password and the current code.

Why bother protecting a computer game account? Because WoW accounts are valuable and are frequently stolen. The typical serious WoW player has between $50 and $200 worth of gold in their account, possibly more. There's a variety of Trojans floating around the Internet custom designed to steal WoW passwords and funnel them to a crook who will log in and strip the account. In my old guild of a hundred people I know at least five people who had their accounts stolen this way.

Two factor authentication is nothing new, but in the US it's unusual for it to be available in such a common consumer product. A lot of my friends who play the game have gotten authenticators for themselves after seeing people lose their accounts. Sure wish I could easily get the same protection at my bank.

  2008-12-05 20:02 Z