WoW Discussion

OMG They Know My Real ID


The new feature being released by Blizzard today in their latest World of Warcraft patch that is causing the most stir is Real ID.  Real ID is a new layer of identify utilizing someone’s email address and name to be shared with other friends to be able to communicate cross faction, server, and eventually cross game (Starcraft 2, Diablo 3).

It will be tightly integrated with your existing friends list while providing extra level to your social gaming experience.  So you get to chat with your friends no matter where they are, and your Real ID friends list will travel with you from Blizzard game to Blizzard game, since they all sit on top of the new Battle.net 2.0 platform, sounds awesome right?  Well for some maybe, others see it as a security and privacy nightmare.  So which one is it?

So to understand Real ID we need to look at how its going to work.  Inside World of Warcraft you will be able to add a new friend either via the old method, or through the new Real ID method.  In order to add a friend via Real ID you will need to know that person’s email address.


After you go to add a friend via Real ID, the person you are adding needs to approve your request, this will happen via pop-up and also on your pending tab.

Only after you approve their request will they then show up in your friends list utilizing their real name (First and Last name).  Once in game, you will see the character name next to their name, along with an icon of the game they are playing.  You will also get pop-ups when someone logs on, even if they aren’t on your server or game.

Also once you add someone, they are there in your friends list cross game.  So being in Starcraft 2 you will see your friends playing World of Warcraft (later on Diablo 3) and you can broadcast a message to all your Real ID.

All of these things are mimicking existing functionality in many social networks like Facebook and Twitter.  The one feature of Real ID that really gets folks heated it seems is the Friends of Friends feature.  The idea is that if you are friends with someone via Real ID, that person’s friends will be able to see your name, and from there ask to be your friend.

Most are claiming that they don’t want friends of friends to see their name, but if you think about it, this is no different than how Facebook works.  You have a friend, and you see their friends posting on their wall posts, and think hey I want to add John Smith to my friends he seems like a cool person.  Same thing here applies.  Also the friends of friends feature will in no way show your email address, only your name.

Also another very important fact with this, is that this system is completely voluntary.  In no way are you required to use the Real ID system, but if you don’t you do not get to talk cross faction, game, etc.

Could Blizzard implement additional levels of privacy and say do not allow friend of friends, sure they could.  Could Blizzard have implemented a separate ID system that doesn’t use your email address?  Probably, but I have to believe that Blizzard would not implement a system that would expose your email and open your account to security concerns.  But in the end, if you are concerned regarding security, get an authenticator.  That will solve 99% of the issue of people accessing your account unbeknown to you.

Personally, the Real ID system is great, it will let me keep in touch with guildies who have moved to the west coast, and subsequently are now on west coast servers.  It will let me contact my buddy when he is playing Starcraft 2, that I need him to run a dungeon with me.  It will let me broadcast to those who are playing Starcraft 2 who were on raid overflow that we have a dps spot open up.  It will let me talk to friends I have made from past Blizzcons, Twitter, Facebook etc while still in game even if they are not on my server.

I think most of the privacy concerns and security concerns are coming from the vocal minority.  And if folks are really that concerned with using their real name to talk to friends, then don’t use the system, after all its voluntary.

Real ID FAQ

12 Comments on OMG They Know My Real ID

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  2. The largest security concern that I think people have is not that their name will be out there. Hell, with a little bit of work on Google, you can probably find the first/last name associated with any email address. In fact, if you have a land-line phone number, your first/last name are probably in the phone book, which would leave you open to more personal attacks than having it available online.

    Personally, my issue with the whole RealID system is that if you decide to hand out your ID, which happens to be the same as your account username, you open yourself up just a bit more to hacking attempts.

    For instance, let’s say that you give your real life, known for 20 years, friend your email address, so that they can enter it in for your RealID. Let’s also say that the said friend happens to have recently gone to a questionable website, and downloaded a keylogger. The said keylogger proceeds to upload that information to your local shady character, and that person now has half of the information they need in order to compromise your account.

    This still means that they need the rest of the information (i.e. password) in order to get into the account. So, the shady character decides to send the email address obtained via the keylogger a phishing email, cleverly disguised like an email from Blizzard’s account office (oh, come on, you’ve all seen them), which contains a link taking you to a place to enter your username/password.

    Because the email looks so legit, you figure it is safe to visit the website, but a feeling of dread comes over you as you realize after reaching the site that it is a spoof. However, the feeling of dread disappears a short while later because you have an authenticator, and your account is “safe”.

    Two weeks later, you are going to log into your account, only to find that you cannot log in. You keep trying to no avail, and eventually give up. The next day, you check your email to find that your account has been suspended. You armory your character, and oh, look, they have no clothes.

    It turns out that the site you visited, downloaded a virus with the capability of uploading your authenticator information immediately upon entering it, which gave the hacker access to your account, long enough to do what they needed to do, and now you have lost all of your hard work.

    While this is an unlikely situation (or is it?), my point is that simply providing your RealID to your friend seemed relatively harmless at first, but resulted in the loss of a lot of hard work (even though it can be restored by Blizz). It also requires you to assume that the person you are giving your information to is a responsible computer user, taking some of the idea that “your account security is your responsibility” motto offered up by Blizzard out of your hands, when Blizz could have simply used a different unique value instead of email address.

    TLDR: Be sure that you trust the people you are giving your RealID to before handing it out.
    Spazmoosifer´s last blog post ..The Winds of Change

  3. A short addendum to my last comment, the situation that I mentioned is a rather unlikely occurrence, especially with the fact that only one person actually ever has to enter your email address (or you enter theirs). After you get past that first person, you should be relatively safe as far as my obscure situation.
    Spazmoosifer´s last blog post ..The Winds of Change

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      There is also the fact if someone has an authenticator, and knows to scrutinize their email, and/or has good anti-virus that can pick apart phishing emails all make them getting your account slim to none. I just think if people take the right precautions handing out your email and displaying your real name aren’t that big of a deal.

  4. As far as your friend having a keylogger goes, that still does nothing to compromise your own account. If they happen to capture your email address then they still have to get a keylogger onto your computer before it means anything. If you’re not scanning your computer then it is your own fault you get hacked.

    You’re right, “we all” get those spam emails and as such “we should all” delete the flipping things on sight if you don’t already have rules set up to just auto-delete the flipping things.

    Every situation sucks if you look at every possible way that it can fail. What if’s only get you so far before they become ridiculous. What if the world blows up tomorrow? Then RealID won’t matter either way!

    Could Blizzard have allowed the use of something other than our email address? Sure they could. “CharacterName-Realm-Game” comes to mind right away on that one, it’s a unique ID already since they don’t allow characters of the same name to be created, and since they tie back to your BNetID it’s really not that hard to do it and all you have to do is basically give an armory link and you’re done.

    That being said, I still think that the negative reactions to RealID are blown way out of proportion. I’m activating RealID the second I get home from work. Assuming, of course, that they get the freaking realms back up by then.
    Psynister´s last blog post ..Blog Leveling: 1-…Something

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      I was actually referring to having an authenticator on my account, sorry for the confusion, definitely could have worded that one better. Oh and yes I will be adding you to my real id friends list, will need someone to ask questions as I level up my alts 🙂

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