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I've been playing a game and there is a private server (with around 2k population) that asks us to turn off DEP for their game, I read about what it does but I don't understand what the consequences can be. Will it be safe for me to turn off DEP for that game only? (I believe they require it to use their protection against bots, macros, etc.) What consequences can I have?

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You should not turn off DEP.

DEP allows a program to selectively mark areas in a program's memory as executable, and areas in memory not marked as executable cannot be executed. This makes various vulnerabilities harder to exploit, especially those that involve overwriting memory with malicious code and then executing that code. The implications of disabling DEP is that a program is much easier to exploit successfully. For an online game, the primary risk is that someone can hijack your computer remotely by exploiting a bug in the game, so you should leave it on. I'm not sure why turning off DEP would have any impact on the ability to use bots or macros though. In fact, having DEP on is more likely to prevent tampering.

See also How do ASLR and DEP work?

  • So they might want to do weird things with my pc right? Never seen this being asked on any other server and I saw the same protection software on all of them – Kyuuri Feb 19 at 10:55
  • @Kyuuri Potentially, or they just don't understand the implication of disabling DEP and are telling people to turn off a vital security feature just to workaround some bug in the game. – forest Feb 19 at 10:57
  • Hmm, I really want to play in this server, is the biggest server right now hahaha. Is there any page or somewhere that I can show the files that are needed to be downloaded so someone (with knowledge in security) can test if it's harmless or not? – Kyuuri Feb 19 at 10:58
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    @Kyuuri The issue is not that the program itself is malicious (if it is, then you're screwed regardless of your DEP settings if you run the program). The issue is that someone on the server can exploit a bug in the game client that hijacks it and allows them to take control of your computer. DEP is designed to make this more difficult. Does the game simply not work if DEP is enabled? – forest Feb 19 at 10:59
  • Nop, it crashes at start if DEP is enabled – Kyuuri Feb 19 at 11:00
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DEP is your friend and security feature, it protects your hardware from programs that use memory incorrectly. In general, it is not recommended to disable it but it is up to you. You can switch off while u playing and then switch on after you finish.

To switch on just run CMD as admin and type this:

-Switch off DEP

bcdedit.exe /set {current} nx AlwaysOff

-Switch on DEP

bcdedit.exe /set {current} nx AlwaysOn

Don't forget to reboot after switching off/on

Edit: Good point forest. In order to exclude programs from DEP just follow these steps:

  1. Click the Start button on your Windows computer and choose Computer

    System Properties > Advanced System Settings.

  2. From the System Properties dialog, select Settings.
  3. Select the Data Execution Prevention tab.
  4. Select Turn on DEP for all programs and services except those I select.
  5. Click Add and use the browse feature to browse to the program executable you want to exclude—for example, excel.exe or word.exe.

Depending on your version of Windows, you may need to access the System Properties dialog box by right-clicking This PC or Computer from Windows Explorer.

  1. In Windows Explorer, right-click and choose

    Properties > Advanced System Settings > System Properties.

  2. Select

    Advanced > Performance > Data Execution Prevention.

  3. Select Turn on DEP for all programs and services except those I select.
  4. Click Add and use the browse feature to browse to the program executable you want to exclude.

Reference link

  • Switching it off during the game is a bad idea since it opens up a window for exploitation. – forest Feb 19 at 10:27
  • I didn't say that it is good but if he really wants to he has this possibility ;) – artmasterpl Feb 19 at 10:31
  • Then why not suggest disabling it for that one application which 1) does not put the entire computer at risk and 2) does not require a reboot to take effect? – forest Feb 19 at 10:36

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