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16 July 2018

Security Benefits of Gaming in a VM

A blog about the security benefits of gaming in a virtual machine.

A common benefit we tout regarding Unraid is the ability to enjoy an uncompromised gaming experience while playing in a virtual machine. In a previous blog post, we ran multiple benchmarks using our test bench to showcase the minimal impact virtualization had on gaming performance. In this write-up, we're going to cover some of the major advantages to privacy and security from gaming in a VM.

Protect yourself from malware

In a recent news story, we heard about Fortnite players getting their systems infected with malware. These players were trying to hack the game to gain an unfair advantage. Unfortunately for them, the creators of the download had a different plan in mind. From the article:

“When the researchers ran the app in a virtual machine, they discovered that it installed a self-signed root certificate that could perform a man-in-the-middle attack on every encrypted website the user visited.”

While you may think these people got what they deserved, what if they shared use of that computer with others in the home? What if the malware was more malicious than simply generating ad revenue for nefarious actors? The point is simple: by creating dedicated VMs for dedicated users and uses, you can better protect yourself from these types of issues.

Protect yourself from intrusive applications

Sometimes our concerns about privacy have to do with major companies, not rogue hackers. In a recent game update for Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, their anti-cheat solution Battleye had an interesting prompt for users to acknowledge before starting the game:

Battleye Privacy Warning

The problem with this isn’t that BattlEye or PUBG are necessarily bad actors that have bad intentions planned for you or your PC, but what if a rogue or disgruntled employee at one of those companies did? How does BattlEye or PUBG corp determine what are “related files and memory” versus just other data and applications running on your system? Wouldn’t it be safer if your OS for gaming didn’t have any other work / personal applications or data on it?

How Unraid and hybrid VMs protect you

By utilizing virtual machines, it is easy to have multiple Windows installations running (even concurrently if you desire) to keep work and play in separate manageable buckets. Don’t use your gaming VM to connect to the office or pay your bills. Instead, isolate its usage to just gaming so that in the event you are breached, at least the attackers don’t have anything meaningful or valuable to obtain. In addition, you can create different VMs for different users to further prevent a single mistake negatively affecting everyone using the machine. All in all, VMs in Unraid make gaming so much safer.

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