GTA Online just can't seem to get rid of its hacker problem, even after all this time. Rockstar has gone to all kinds of lengths to make the game hacker-proof or at least a lot more hacker-resistant. Even so, nothing is unhackable, and this game seems to be far from it. An entirely new form of hack has recently popped up which at first might even seem beneficial... until it gets you banned.
Even before this hack surfaced, the script kiddies had an unfortunately wide array of tools at their disposal. They could instantly kill anyone or everyone in a lobby, spawn props, drop money, teleport, activate god mode, crash lobbies, pin the destruction of personal vehicles on others and much, much more.
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While the game's anti-cheat system issues bans frequently and without remorse, the hackers almost always return or slip by unnoticed. Even if that were not so, their sheer number makes them a true bother. Whenever there is a ban wave, the streets stay clear for a few days - even a week, if we're lucky - but the hackers always return.
Recently, the game's anti-cheat got a much-needed upgrade which issues bans mid-session. Previously, an account had to be logged out of the game to be slapped with the ban, but now hackers who ticked off the anti-cheat would be hammered instantly. This upgrade seemed to be a major one, which would also likely bring with it more sophisticated detection algorithms to weed out the undesirables.
And yet, not soon after, instead of a marked decrease of hackers, the game sees the introduction of a new hack altogether. It's like the people behind these scripts purposefully timed this in a manner to try and make Rockstar look bad, even though they've delivered a major upgrade.
This new hack we're speaking about alters something that so far hackers could only change on their own account: rank. Generally, seeing rank 8000 players running around was a quick and easy way to identify a rookie script kidde who isn't worried about being a painfully obvious hacker.
This hack, however, doesn't boost them to a higher rank, but other players - rank 250, to be precise. No matter how far or close you are from rank 250, if a hacker in your lobby initiates this, you'll instantly reach that precise rank. Whether you're rank 2 and bumbled into this lobby, or rank 249 teetering on the edge, you'll get there either way.
The new hack can be misconstrued by some to be a good thing. After all, jumping above the soft-cap for the game's level system with zero effort sounds like a pretty good deal (unless you actually like to, you know, accomplish things yourself in the game). However this is an almost surefire way to get yourself slapped with a ban.
Tampering with your rank - or, in this case, someone else tampering with it - is one of the first things to tick off the game's anti-cheat. Since a change in Rockstar's banning policies, all bans are final with no option of repeal, and will automatically wipe all progress on your character including money, rank and items. Provided it doesn't perma-ban you right off the bat, of course.
It should go without saying that this issue is only present on PC, since the current-gen consoles have yet to be cracked, and now that the transfer system isn't in place anymore, there is no way to cheat on these platforms.
However, do not despair, as there is a way to avoid permanent damage provided you're swift. GTA Online data isn't saved immediately when an alteration or event occurs. The game indicates saving to the servers with a tiny spinning circle in the corner of the screen, so if that hasn't appeared yet and you're hit with this hack, just cut power, yank the internet cable or do whatever it takes to instantly sever your game's connection to the GTA online servers. This way your hacked state won't save.
While Rockstar has managed to implement fixes for individual cheats in the past, such as with the insurance fraud hack, those fixes relied on disabling various game mechanics, which isn't exactly possible with something as intrinsic as ranks. In the meantime everyone should keep an eye out for this sort mishap and stay safe.