In the past few weeks GTA Online's hacker issues have seemed to quiet down a bit. Granted, the modders and cheaters still didn't disappear entirely, however their numbers seemingly began to thin out. Some players took this as a sign that they could finally breathe easy without having to fear hackers pouncing upon them.
Rockstar has been waging a quasi-war on hackers pretty much ever since GTA Online went live. They tried all kinds of approaches, including hidden stat tracking, disabling all mods entirely and clogging up the game files with dead code to try and slow them down.
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When that last method backfired, the dev team decided to go back and rework the hidden stat tracking system - and by "rework" we mean "pump full of the programming equivalent of steroids". The new system initially seemed like overkill, however looked to have done the job and plugged most of the holes.
The new stats system tracked where you are, where others are in relation to you, what you are doing, how much cash you have, what you spend that cash on, what missions you did, how you interacted with other players, etc. - the list just keeps on going and going. It also saves all this data for future reference, so that it can track your movements and spending to sniff out any foul play. Sounds good right?
Hackers have been up to all kinds of trouble for years now, ranging from the mildly inconvenient to the absolutely game-breaking. Either they pull pranks like spawning a massive satellite dish inside your garage, or they saddle you with a piggy-backing clone of yourself with the side effect of spawning other clones which are hostile - oh, and all damage you deal hurts you.
A while back when Rockstar began to clean things up, hackers started using PC mods which implicated others, allowing them to get off with no issue. They used others to spawn in cash, or fooled the anti-cheating mechanics to ban others even if the modder was the one with invincibility.
The most recent thing hackers have started pulling is the worst one yet. Taking the fun out of GTA Online was one thing, but stealing something you quite possibly paid actual money for? That's serious.
Albeit indirectly, hackers can now "steal" your in game cash. They can now perform so called "insurance frauds". These frauds involve the destruction of the hacker's own personal vehicle, except it is billed to the account of another player in the lobby. And for the avoidance of doubt, yes, as far as we know this only affects the PC version of the game.
Unlike money spawning, which doesn't technically hurt anyone directly, this takes money directly away from the other players. They have to cover the insurance with their own cash.
By kicking players from lobbies during jobs, instantly killing everyone during deathmatches or spawn-winning races, hacker cause potential-losses for other players. This means that they simply lose the possibility of making money. However with this new insurance fraud, they take cash which actually belongs to the victims. They could have gotten that GTA $ from Shark Cards, which are purchased with real money.
This was only an issue of fair play and fun factor until now. Adding in the question of actual money loss makes the hacker issue more severe by magnitudes.
Another negative side effect the victims suffer, though significantly less infuriating as losing money, is that they receive bad sport points for destroying another player's personal vehicle. Being bumped into GTA Online's bad sport lobby isn't nearly as big an issue as financial loss.
So far this new method of hacking is isolated and limited to the PC platform only. If you find yourself a victim of GTA Online insurance fraud, you can and should contact Rockstar support for a reimbursement.
However, if this becomes widespread and out of hand, Rockstar will have no choice but to crack down on GTA Online hackers like never before. What implications this may have for the game, we can't speculate.
What are your thoughts on the developing issue regarding hackers in GTA Online?