OpenSim grids getting better at handling griefers

Griefed sim on the now-closed Euitop grid. (Image courtesy Thirza Ember.).

Griefers can be a real nuisance in OpenSim.

Also known as bad faith players, they can fill a world with various self-replicating items to deliberately irritate other users.

There are a number of ways to do away with the objects left by griefers, including automatic detection, shutdown, and restarting of overloaded and unresponsive regions once they are affected.

Kitely has a system that automatically detects and shuts down an affected region or sim after a few minutes of being affected, which limits the effect of griefing to that world. The grid will then offer assistance to restore the affected region or sim to the last automatic daily backup when the sim or region owner requests help, said Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner.

“We have had very few griefers attempt scripted object attacks in Kitely over the years because our system makes it very easy to overcome their denial of service attempts,” he told Hypergrid Business. “We place no more than four worlds per server and no two worlds are adjacent, thus preventing scripted objects from quickly spreading from one world to another.”

Kitely also uses and keeps detailed logs that the admins can review to see who initiated the attack and ban them in multiple ways from visiting the grid, he said.

“By limiting the automatic spread of scripted objects between worlds and being able to very easily recover from such attacks we have made it hardly worth the effort for griefers to attack Kitely, which is why the few people who have ever attempted to do so quickly left to other grids where their efforts can have a much bigger impact,” he said.

Banning griefers is a good option for grid owners who do not want to keep manually dealing with them.

Otherwise, it is easy to clear items from known griefers, one of whom has been using an avatar named Priscilla Kleenex, said Thirza Ember, Hypergrid Safari founder and CEO.

“Priscilla Kleenex has opened at least 25 accounts that I am aware of, probably many more, joining any grid that allows you to make an account without question,” she told Hypergrid Business. “It takes about five seconds to clear up the mess — you just go into Preferences and remove all items owned by Priscilla.”

Grid owners may have to look into additional methods of verifying users like verifying an email or using captchas to prevent spammy users, she said. Many smaller grids are using this approach or having account applications reviewed manually by admins before being allowed, she added, although this takes longer.

Otherwise, griefing is a way for the attacker to get attention, said Ember, adding that the attacker uses scripts and prims of different shapes and forms which self-replicate. Her own Safari sim on Avacon was griefed less than a month ago but she has since cleaned it up.

Griefed Safari sim on AvaCon grid. (Image courtesy Thirza Ember.).

“Priscilla Kleenex is the name now used although I am willing to bet it is the same Jack Mariolane who used to plague OpenSim years ago – possibly living in Italy, because of course all the grid owners can see perfectly well the geolocation of the computer used,” she said. “Apparently, blocking the Mac address will keep her out of your grid whatever new account is made.”

Last week, Kleenex attacked Speculoos World from four different accounts that she started creating on May 12. The grid later figured out how to ban her avatar and deleted all items she had created, but needed to confirm the effects because the procedure was permanent, said Gudule Lapointe, owner of Speculoos World.

“I made a bash or Myql script to find the griefer and their alt and ban them and delete their objects,” he told Hypergrid Business. “It would be interesting to see if other grid owners have alternative or better solutions and share them.”

However, banning an attacker is not the most efficient way of dealing with the problem because it is widely known that attackers will use different IPs and grids.

Cleaning may also be less effective because the rez, scripts, and terraforms by anyone are by default settings in OpenSim core.

The default settings also follow the OARs so you could load an OAR after the cleanup and still become vulnerable. There have been some challenges in dealing with the issue because there are no quick and easy tools except manual methods to find which regions and sims have the default settings turned on.

Traditionally, a way of dealing with the problem was to use the World-Parcel Details or Control-R in Firestorm viewer to return objects from the attacker and also uncheck the default settings for Edit Terrain, Build, and if desired, Run Scripts but the latter causes HUDs to stop working though it also stops pushing and particle spam. However, most grid owners do not appear to know this.

DreamGrid version 5, which was released mid-last month, deals with this problem by disabling the default OpenSim core settings for rez, scripts, and terraforms by commenting out a line of code that controls the settings in Opensim/framework/landData/cs, said Fred Beckhusen, CEO of Microstrategy Technologies Ltd, the company which owns and runs DreamGrid and Outworldz.

“It allows DreamGrid owners to see all region parcels that have these settings enabled,” he told Hypergrid Business. “The image below shows that the column labeled ‘Parcels Settings’ in Region “Welcome” that parcel ‘Your Parcel’ has Build and Land editing for anyone.”

DreamGrid version 5 settings help deter griefers. (Image courtesy DreamGrid.).

DreamGrid lets users create virtual worlds and small grids on their home computers.

ZetaWorlds grid also uses automatic methods to detect and deter griefing when it happens. The tools are effective in keeping out griefers despite the grid still having a few regions left with open permissions, said Zetamex CEO

“In the end it comes down to grid operators knowing the platform well enough to know what they need to check and where holes might be,” he told Hypergrid Business. “With a bit of administration and regular checking you can maintain a decent service quality and avoid most pitfalls of OpenSim as a software and people as troublemakers.”

Most grid owners are reluctant to consult about how to secure their grids, he said.