Pokémon Go’s anti-cheating code cracked, maps and bots coming back online

Pokémon Go’s anti-cheating code cracked, maps and bots coming back online

It took the hackers at PokemonGoDev on Reddit just three days and five hours to undo Niantic’s anti-cheating work implemented in the last Pokémon Go update.

The technical details are pretty dense, but the gist of it is Niantic programmed in hidden piece of data called U6, or Unkown6, into the Pokémon Go code. A small group of like-minded coders pooled their collective know-how and determined the data was used to send encrypted information about the game from the client (i.e. the Pokémon Go app) to the game server with details only a valid client would have.

Gathering on GitHub and Reddit while chatting on Discord these determined data-miners and hackers eventually cracked Niantic’s code. There’s still code to be figured out within the game, but for now the Pokémon Go API is back and the doors are open once more for bots and radar services.

There’s a fantastic in-depth article on Ars Technica that is well worth reading for anyone interested in how a handful of coding geniuses around the world were able to pull this off.

Editorial comment: As I’ve stated in the past I have no issues with radar sites like PokeVision, but I understand why people do. My argument is they’re no worse than looking up an FAQ for a new release game, but others see them as cheating and taking the mystery out of the game.

Regardless of what you think about maps, I think most of us agree that bots suck. And they’ll ruin the game if left unchecked. Niantic should have focused on shutting down sites like MyGOBot and worried about PokeVision much later on. But they didn’t. And now their band-aid solution has proven useless.

So here’s hoping the team at Niantic get their priorities straight for the next update and start banning bot users permanently.