Legit Battlefield 3 gamers banned via PunkBuster exploit

Hackers at ArtificialAiming proving a point.

Update: EA has responded to Eurogamer with a statement that has already been aired on the Battlelog forum.

In summary: this is only happening to a "small subset" of PC gamers, and not on console.

EA is on the case and is "confident" of having a "permanent solution" for you "shortly".

Until then, you're advised to avoid servers running PunkBuster.

Here's the full statement:

"We are aware that some Battlefield 3 players are experiencing connection issues with PunkBuster enabled servers," EA's statement read.

"This problem is limited to a small subset of players on PC and will not impact players on PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360.

"We are actively looking into the specifics of this issue and we are confident that we will have a permanent solution in place shortly.

"In the meantime, if your connectivity has been affected, we recommend that in the interim you join servers that are not running PunkBuster. There is a filter setting for this in the multiplayer server browser.

"Thank you for your patience."

Original story: To prove how flawed Battlefield 3 anti-cheat and monitoring systems are, hackers have used a PunkBuster exploit to ban more than 150 law-abiding players.

Cheat and hack forum ArtificialAiming instigated the bans and provided proof of their coup in a post (via Battlefield 3 blog)

ArtificialAiming's argument is with GGC and PBBans. These are third-party services that run on Battlefield 3 servers and provide a host of anti-cheat tools - live ban lists among them. GGC and PBBans were working together, but broke off their partnership in October.

"We are bringing back the unerring of PunkBuster back for a third season," read the post on the ArtificialAiming forum. "We have selected GGC-stream as the target since they have the most streaming BF3 servers and makes it very easy to add fake bans.

"In 2011 we hit them with a mass ban-wave, and now we are banning real players from Battlelog while GGC-stream is totally unaware. We have framed 150-plus BF3 players alone."

GGC-stream apparently denied the appeal of players who were framed by saying the bans were "legit".

ArtificialAiming even created a host of fake nicknames on the banned accounts to signpost the problem. Examples of these are "No_one_is_safe", "You_will_never_find_all_the_fake_bans", "BF3_fake_ban_#111", "GGC_is_not_safe", "Many_more_fake_bans_are_coming" and "This_is_a_fake_ban". And that was just for one banned BF3 account.

ArtificialAiming claims to have banned eSports League admins as well - although these bans were "quickly removed" by GGC.

"Thx to the GGC-stream team for the lulz," the post concluded.

EA and DICE are yet to comment on the issue.

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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