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Unity3D Games "Phone Home" With Details Of Your Hardware & Software

By Matt - | Views: 36,053
A tweet sent out by the Unity engine folks earlier about their stats page mentions that all Unity games automatically send your data to them on the first launch. This is interesting and worrying.

It's interesting because we have another avenue of checking up on how Linux is doing, and worrying because they send out software and hardware information without notice (and I never knew this!).

Linux seems to be pretty low overall:
Windows Player: 95.5%
OS X Player: 4.3%
Linux Player: 0.1%
Source

It's interesting as we can see that for Unity based games, Ubuntu and Linux Mint are top of the Linux distribution food chain:
Ubuntu: 61.4%
Mint: 15.0%
unknown: 12.6%
Linux 3.2 (Canaima 3.1): 3.1%
Manjaro: 2.0%
Arch: 2.0%
Elementary: 1.6%
Debian: 1.2%
Suse: 0.8%
Source

Quote taken from their official page:
QuoteWhen installed, a Unity game submits anonymous hardware details. This is done only once, and does not contain any personally identifiable information (see the privacy policy for what exactly gets sent). We compute statistics of this information. This can be incredibly helpful for Unity game developers in helping them to make good content decisions and optimize performance of their games.

I don't want to worry anyone here, but it's important that people know this is happening. Any bugs in this could easily send over private data by accident. Worse things have happened, so should this really be something that goes on silently?

There is no opt-out of this data collection either which is also a bit worrying as, again, it's all done behind the scenes.

How many of you knew Unity games did this? What do you think about it? I would be interested to see if people are as worried as me, or if they feel Unity should be trusted with our silently collected data? Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Unity
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38 comments
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QUASAR Oct 14, 2014
From 16 games on their 2014 showcase only 6 are availeable on Linux, so as always we have to be carefull about this statistics, maybe they will be more usefull per game.
ssokolow Oct 15, 2014
In case it helps anyone else, here's what I came up with as starting points while spending about 15 minutes researching ways to either tag or virtualize packet routing on a per-process basis:

A. PID-oriented iptables was always broken on systems with more than one CPU and seems to have been removed, so that's not an option.

B. According to these pages, I could use the net_cls cgroup to tag sections of the process hierarchy and then use iptables to DROP any outbound UDP or TCP SYN packets that originated from my user account but weren't launched in the whitelist cgroup... but I'd first need to install a newer kernel and iptables in my Lubuntu 14.04.

It could be accomplished in one of three ways:
  • DROP processes with "--uid-owner ssokolow" that lack some whitelist tag

  • Launch the DE under a blacklist tag and then move certain descendant processes back out

  • Accept the risk of the occasional phone-home slipping through and explicitly launch games with a blacklist tag instead.



  • http://www.evolware.org/?p=369

  • http://serverfault.com/a/486104

  • https://access.redhat.com/documentation/en-US/Red_Hat_Enterprise_Linux/6/html/Resource_Management_Guide/Starting_a_Process.html



C. I'll need to research the easiest way to do it without altering the execution environment for the game (namespace control requires root) and it's a less elegant solution than cgroups, but it's also possible to use Linux network namespaces to launch games on a virtual subnet and then set up a filtering bridge to the real LAN subnet:

  • http://www.evolware.org/?p=293

  • http://blog.scottlowe.org/2013/09/04/introducing-linux-network-namespaces/

  • http://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/125599/settings-when-using-a-bridge

  • http://libvirt.org/firewall.html



D. ...and, if all else fails, I could always investigate whether using LXC (and one the alternative approaches to virtualized networking it supports) produces a container flexible enough to run my games without doing anything ugly like forcing rendering via the host X server to take a slower fallback.

  • https://linuxcontainers.org/

  • https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/getting-started-with-lxc-on-an-ubuntu-13-04-vps

  • http://askubuntu.com/questions/293275/what-is-lxc-and-how-to-get-started

  • https://wiki.debian.org/LXC

  • http://containerops.org/2013/11/19/lxc-networking/

  • https://wiki.debian.org/LXC/SimpleBridge

  • https://help.ubuntu.com/lts/serverguide/lxc.html

  • https://help.ubuntu.com/community/LXC



Of course, a little Python or shell scripting should make it easy to poke holes in the iptables restrictions so it's possible to join multiplayer games hosted by IP addresses known to belong to friends.

...now to just find the time to make the damn thing. I guess I'll be sticking to mostly non-game entertainment for a while.
vulture Oct 16, 2014
Quoting: oldrocker99This is indeed disturbing; at least Steam tells you what is happening. IF it is truly nothing but anonymous hardware data, I guess it's OK, but they should have told us a lot earlier.

And, yes, 0.1% Linux users is way, way under reporting the actual numbers. I believe Steam's stats, and I certainly don't believe these, although their distro figures seem about right.

this is not per user reporting. it is per game and unity not only has lots of non-linux games, it also has no decent linux game at all. i think in my library of 200 games i don't have one single game made with unity.

this is completely irrelevant statistic
dustinquickfire Oct 16, 2014
I don't see why the GamingonLinux Twitter account is bothering me about this when it isn't even an article by anyone who works for this site. None of the staff working on the game was aware of this being an issue until someone on our Steam page made a post about it linking this article. Gamers expect devs to just 'drop' an engine because it collects data they don't want sent to Unity(or another engine). You're living in a world where almost every website collects your data with or without your own consent.

I'd rather watch an Alex Jones video than worry about this being an issue. Hell, I'd take his own tin foil hat agenda about this very post.
DrMcCoy Oct 16, 2014
Quoting: dustinquickfireYou're living in a world where almost every website collects your data with or without your own consent.

Oh, the ever popular "But everyone is doing it" defense. It's bullshit, was always bullshit and will always be bullshit.

Or, in the wise words of my mother: "If everyone's jumping off a bridge, will you do it too?"

Nevermind that the information a website has access to is vastly less than what a damn custom binary that runs on my system has. Also, I'm running NoScript, AdBlock, FlashBlock, Ghostery, RefControl, Cookie Monster and BetterPrivacy for exactly this reason.
sev Oct 20, 2014
I assumed all Steam games did this. I would be surprised if it is ONLY the Unity ones, and I am even more surprised that people are surprised. It's closed source software......what did you expect??
Liam Dawe Oct 21, 2014
Quoting: sevI assumed all Steam games did this. I would be surprised if it is ONLY the Unity ones, and I am even more surprised that people are surprised. It's closed source software......what did you expect??

Being closed source doesn't instantly mean it will collect a load of your data and send it off.
Nightmare Twilight Nov 12, 2014
I've started to tag games on Steam with "Unity3D", to remind me why I'm not interested in the game.
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