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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. Having DEP on is more likely to prevent tampering.

See also How do ASLR and DEP work?

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  • 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, 2019 at 10:55
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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, 2019 at 10:59
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    @Kyuuri Then, short of debugging the issue and fixing it yourself (as crashing with DEP enabled sounds like incompetence on the part of the game developer), there is no simple way to run the client safely while still reducing the risk of someone else on the server exploiting and hijacking your game client. You need to do risk analysis: how bad do you really want to play the game? Will a potential breach of your computer security be worth it? How bad would the fallout be for you if someone hacked your computer?
    – forest
    Feb 19, 2019 at 11:01
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    Yeah, not worth it. I wish I could warn the other users, but nobody would listen.
    – Kyuuri
    Feb 19, 2019 at 11:03
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    @Kyuuri You can never convince everybody. Maybe they'll play the game and have fun and nothing bad will come of it. Maybe some clever hacker will exploit every last one of them and steal all their credit card info and you're the only one who wasn't affected. There's no way to know.
    – forest
    Feb 19, 2019 at 11:04
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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

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  • Switching it off during the game is a bad idea since it opens up a window for exploitation.
    – forest
    Feb 19, 2019 at 10:27
  • I didn't say that it is good but if he really wants to he has this possibility ;) Feb 19, 2019 at 10:31
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    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, 2019 at 10:36

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