Riot speaks on Vanguard and its kernel-mode driver security concerns
Image provided by Riot Games.

On April 17, the security team for Riot Games addressed player concerns regarding Riot Vanguard’s kernel-mode driver. Vanguard is a security program fully designed by Riot. The purpose of it is to prevent cheating in Valorant. However, players have voiced concerns about the system’s potential to cause personal data leaks. The concerns stem from the highly privileged kernel-mode driver rooting in Vanguard.

Earlier this year, Riot informed players of its security update from a user-mode driver to a kernel-mode driver. The benefits of updating included aimbot detection and protection from high-privileged cheats camouflaging as legitimate data. Players did not suspect much concern until the release of Valorant.

Valorant and Vanguard

Vanguard consists of a client, platform, and kernel-mode driver. The client keeps track of anti-cheat detections in Valorant. Meanwhile, the driver runs at startup and is used by the client to monitor memory, data, and any disruptions. The platform is what causes the driver and client to do their jobs while allowing the player to play.

Valorant will only run if Vanguard is installed. It will run in the background separately while playing the game. Along those lines, only trusted machines can run Valorant.

Reassurance from Riot and security bounties

Riot Games has made it clear that Vanguard will not collect personal data. The reason the developer resorted to a kernel-mode driver is to combat any high-level cheats. Vanguard has even been checked and approved by Microsoft through its code-signing process.

On the other hand, Riot will be giving cash rewards to anyone who finds valid security flaws in Vanguard and reports them. Since 2016, Riot has run a security bounty system. The purpose of the bounties is to promote anti-cheating and improve the privacy and security throughout Riot’s games. Players who are interested in helping Riot’s security can check out our article about it.

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Alexia Hinton
Alexia Hinton is an aspiring illustrator who enjoys playing video games and drinking Pepsi Cola.