I remember playing Minecraft (Java-we're only talking about Minecraft Java on the computer here) at like 13-14 years old, and having this server owner claim that the server has been hacked, and that attackers were able to gain extra privileges on Minecraft, like operator (in-game admin) status and such, as well as griefing (destroying other people's builds without permission) and other types of attacks.

But I have always wondered how the attackers did it, or if the server owner even knew what was going on. There are lots of mods and "tricks" out there on getting operator status, getting creative mode, blaw blaw blaw, but most of it, as far as I have seen, are either bogus mods (probably infested with malware for the player), or social engineering attacks.

Are there any legitimate attacks on the Minecraft server Java application itself, that would allow players to give themselves operator (admin) status? How would I go about finding the technical details of those attacks?

The social engineering attacks make sense, but I am still puzzled on how to figure out how the other attacks happened. Since it was a modded server, some of the griefing protections didn't work. Those attacks made sense. But I never understood about them getting administrator access though the Minecraft Java server. Maybe they SSH'd into the server? Maybe they hacked into Multicraft (a web-based control panel for Minecraft)? Maybe another application on the server, that wasn't Minecraft Server Java application? Maybe they exploited the Mojang account, by either having a bogus web page for the server owner to fill in the credentials, to get the password? That would still be a social engineering attack.

  • I found a couple things by searching online; were those results not helpful? – multithr3at3d May 27 '20 at 15:11

Minecraft servers have a feature called "online mode" which verifies the username and UUID of all players that connect to the server against the Minecraft authentication servers. This feature is enabled by default, and it's necessary to make sure players who connect are who they say they are. However, some servers disable this feature so that players with pirated copies of Minecraft can connect.

If the server did not have "online mode" enabled, then an attacker could connect to the server with any username/UUID. If they connected to the server with an operator's username/UUID, then the server would believe they were the operator and give them operator privileges.

The way to avoid this issue is to leave online mode on. If you must turn it off, then you can add an authentication plugin to the server, so players must type a password to confirm who they are, but this increases the effort for people to join the server each time.

In the distant past, the Minecraft server has on occasion had vulnerabilities that allowed people to spoof another player's username/UUID, but I believe those were all promptly fixed.


Sometimes a user could spoof the server operators UUID. In this case, they can continue with all the privileges of that user, or OP their own UUID. The main way to defend against this is with a 2FA plugin.

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