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Someone asked the question below on SO and it made one very energetic user (I rather not point fingers) lose his mind: Using GetPixel() on Minimized Windows

The question has been edited, but the original title was "Minecraft bot in c++".

Since I answered the question, a lot of his negative energy was aimed at me. It got to a point where the other user started to be irrational, and fortunately (or not) Bill was fast to deleted all comments related to this discussion and suggested we started a thread here in Meta.

The fact is that this specific question was very simple, it has been asked several times before (not on SO, though) and the kid who asked it would have found the answer in a couple of minutes if it wasn't to lazy to Google it.

I defended that whether he knows this or not, software security is a known and growing field in CS, which has been around for many years. There are even great books on the subject, like Exploiting Software, which teaches how to design software so it's as resistant as possible to attack. Other documents might be interesting to a more specific or smaller community like gamers, game developers and software security professionals, to whom Exploiting Online Games addresses, exposing the inner workings of online-game security for all to see.

Anyway, I found the question intriguing and tried to answer it the best I could. I don't want something like that happening to me again and I would like to know how to approach further questions related to security topics. What's the standard behavior, do we talk about it and contribute or should we keep this matters a secret?

share|improve this question
I do not condone cheating nor malicious hacking, but I am interested in deeply understanding and discussing the inner workings of a particular system/game. – karlphillip Apr 22 '11 at 21:35
It's almost never good security (or even effective) to keep these matters secret. Since reading pixels off the screen is hardly a cutting-edge zero day exploit, I don't see any harm in discussing it. – Bill the Lizard Apr 22 '11 at 21:50
Did you link to the wrong question? I see a question about reading the content of a window from another program (presumably running on the same machine as the same user). Where does security figure into that? And how come you answered the question, and closed it as NaRQ at the same time? – Gilles Apr 23 '11 at 0:13
As I mentioned before, the question has been edited since it was asked. But if you look into the revision history, you will see what I'm talking about: – karlphillip Apr 23 '11 at 0:26
We detected an invalid link in your post, please correct it. (this message will be automatically removed when the link is fixed) – Community May 14 '12 at 5:24
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I don't think there's anything wrong with answering specific programming questions. We are helping people use tools. Not everyone will use those tools for good.

Personally, I think if someone was clear that their intentions were evil (I'm trying to hack a bank but have xyz problem...) I would ignore or flag as offensive. In this case, the guy is trying to cheat at a video game at worst.

Now, if the question is asking for specific exploits, I think that would be another matter.

share|improve this answer
+1 I agree, and that's were I draw the line. – karlphillip Apr 22 '11 at 21:37
Questions about trying to hack a bank will definitely get a different reaction out of me than questions about pixel scraping a video game. :) – Bill the Lizard Apr 22 '11 at 21:53
@BilltheLizard You mean like this one? Or is that still in a gray area? – Paul Aug 23 '13 at 6:34

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