So soon after an initial GTA Online hack was discovered and which could instantly increase the rank of any player hit to 250, and thus put them at risk of being falsely identified as hackers themselves, a far more nefarious cheat has surfaced in the game. This newest hack does what only one other could do in the past: drain cash from other players.
Usually, when we're speaking about hackers in GTA Online, we're talking about people who spawn props, drop cash, teleport around the map and crash everyone's lobbies with infinite explosions. These players get their kicks out of screwing with the natural order of the game and mucking up the sessions of others who'd rather actually play properly.
While usually they're not too destructive, and some misguided players are even conned into thinking they're "cool guys" handing out cash, sometimes hackers can do real monetary damage. These are the kind of hacks that illicit Rockstar's crackdowns which aren't too peachy on the players either.
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Some of you may remember when last year a insurance costs based hack popped up that also drained cash from players. The method then was instantly auto-destroying the personal vehicle of the hacker on an unending loop, whilst fooling the game into thinking that it was another player in the lobby who was doing the destroying, thus pinning the insurance costs on them.
Since the hack repeated itself automatically, players hit could lose millions before switching to another lobby. To add insult to injury, wrecking a personal vehicle nets players bad sport points, and will eventually boot them into a so-called bad sport lobby, which is characterized by other undesirables and a dunce hat.
The hack instantly became a top priority on Rockstar's agenda seeing as it risked the cash of the players, which, due to the Shark Card microtransaction system, potentially meant product bought with real cash. For the first time since the game's release, hackers had put gamer's hard-earned real-life cash at risk.
The temporary fix Rockstar swiftly implemented was to turn off both systems the hack exploited - insurance premiums and bad sport - while they worked on a method to prevent the use of the hack while enabling the systems to be reinstated. However, after the attempt at a permanent fix was unsuccessful, Rockstar was forced to shut down both systems for good.
The new hack which was first documented today, however, uses a far more essential system to remove cash from players' in-game accounts. The passive mode system in GTA Online is designed to allow players to enjoy freeroam without having to worry about unsolicited PvP or griefers. When you're in passive mode a number of features are disabled, but others cannot harm you conventionally, nor can you hurt them.
However, there are some loopholes to this mode, such as ramming people with a car that you jump out of in the last second. Though there are few of these, some still identify you as the killer, in which case the game deducts the price of the hospital bill from you, not the guy who died while in passive mode.
In a method very, very similar to insurance fraud, the new hack fools the game into thinking that the victim is repeatedly killing the hacker while they are in passive mode. What's more, the value of the hospital bill is also tweaked to be significantly larger than any hospital bill you could genuinely get in the game without hacks.
On a sidenote, this new hack has only appeared on the last-gen consoles and PC, seeing as the current-gen consoles have yet to be cracked.
A screenshot began circulating of a player who was getting repeated messages that they've killed another player (name censored for whatever reason) and paid a hospital bill of $100,000,000. This message repeated itself several times, with a decreasing number of digits each time.
Reports of the hack also circulated on GTAForums in a post which detailed both the money draining hack and the one which increased rank instantly. The post also indicates that this isn't the end of it either - a new hack may be incoming which will alters other players' outfits, meaning that those outfits which might no longer be replicable could be lost for good if it really does end up being implemented.
This is also an auto-executing looped hack, meaning it can zero out your in-game account within seconds. It isn't clear how widespread its use is at this point, but it's likely that the fallout will be pretty massive. It's already gained traction in the media, which, on the one hand, likely spurs Rockstar to fix it. On the other hand though, it also notifies a number of less than savory folk out there about a particularly twisted hack that their depraved minds would enjoy using.
During its two stints, the Insurance Fraud hack likely cost players hundreds upon hundreds of millions of GTA$ overall, and even then Rockstar was relatively swift in their response. Since then, GTA Online's player base has multiplied, which means more hackers and more victims.
This situation is framed in a recent revelation that the rank-increasing hack has gotten an upgrade since we wrote about it. Initially, the hack jacked up people's rank to 250, however, since then reports of hackers increasing ranks by the thousands have appeared, with players getting kicked up to rank 2000 and more.
These are perfect examples of just how malicious hackers are. Manipulating rank is a surefire way to tick off the anti-cheat, possibly leading to the victims being banned, while the passive mode hack is causing real world monetary damage. How anyone could possibly defend the hackers after this debacle is beyond us.
Kotaku has reached out to someone who had a hand in developing a (significantly less nefarious) GTA 5 mod menu in the past, who explained that the worst thing about this new hack is that the script behind it is actually really simple to integrate into other menus, meaning that this hack could spread exponentially before Rockstar comes up with a fix.
Speaking of, the developers have set up a support thread indicating that they are aware of the issue and working on a fix right now. We don't know when to expect it being implemented, but knowing them and their track record, the passive mode hack won't be around for long.
In the meantime, there are some measures players can take to stay on the safe side. Sticking to invite-only lobbies or those sessions under the control of a crew is advisable. However, if you don't have a pressing need to play GTA Online for a day or two, you might want to stick to singleplayer, or use this opportunity to strike out another game from your backlog.
We're not sure what kind of fix Rockstar could come up with. Obviously the quick fix here is to disable the passive mode system altogether. However, it is an integral part of GTA Online which is crucial to enjoying the game, what with all the griefers around.
That said, there is an element in the GTA Online community which has called for the scrapping of the system anyway, and the view that it needs a redesign is widespread. While removing any kind of system along the lines of the current passive mode would ultimately hurt the experience, it is true that the mode could use an overhaul, as in its current state is can easily be exploited by griefers as well.
This might prove to be a perfect chance for Rockstar to go back to the drawing board and take a long, hard look at the passive mode. In the meantime, just fixing this hack would be more than satisfactory, but while we wait for that, we'd once again suggest against going into public lobbies for the time being.
We'll provide up-to-date coverage on this situation as it develops.