GTA Online is getting a "security related" update as griefers run rampant with new exploit

GTA Online Taxi Work
(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

Update: Rockstar has seemingly acknowledged the exploit described in the story below, and as such a "security related" title update is incoming. However, a new GTA Online PC connection issue has been introduced as a result, preventing players with additional firewall or port blocking measures in place from reaching the servers.

For the uninitiated, a disturbing new exploit in GTA Online is allowing griefers to corrupt other players' accounts, and in extreme cases, entire accounts are reportedly being deleted. We spoke with a tipster recently and were told the exploit could become even more severe and potentially affect your PC - not just your GTA Online account.

Thankfully, Rockstar has suggested in a Twitter statement (opens in new tab) that it's aware of the exploit and is working on a fix.

"We are aware of potential new exploits in GTA Online for PC, which we aim to resolve in an upcoming planned security-related Title Update," reads the tweet. Affected players are encouraged to contact Rockstar support.

It's unclear when exactly the update will arrive and what fixes it will contain, but Rockstar's acknowledgment is certainly a start.

Original story:

GTA Online griefers have reportedly discovered a remote code execution exploit that allows them to corrupt other players' accounts, leading to stats manipulation and complete account deletion.

Popular Rockstar Games tipster Tez2 raised the alarm (opens in new tab) over the weekend, warning others that the exploit could "transform into something much worse" and "extend beyond a game" to affect your PC. On top of that, they say paid and free mod menu distributors - an ongoing issue for the game - are racing to include the feature in their offering to buyers. We’ve had a look for ourselves and have found a few distributors claiming to package the exploit, whereas others are staying clear.

Speaking to GamesRadar+, Tez explains that the exploit was initially discovered and shared back in 2019 pertaining to PS3 – naturally, we won’t be sharing that link. Now that knowledge of the exploit is circulating around paid and free mod menu sellers, it’s threatening to become an increasingly common sight in the game. "It started spreading like crazy, almost like a speedrun activity," the tipster says of the exploit's increasing frequency among mod menus.

Over the past several days, players have taken to social media to report that their accounts have been corrupted or manipulated in a certain way. For example, people who use the right mod menu can give or take large sums of in-game money.

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Rockstar has yet to address the issue, though we've reached out for comment. In better news, however, Tez2 reports that the developer has been "logging any affected account[s] before the first mod menu started abusing the new exploits". Players have also figured out a temporary workaround (opens in new tab) if you're keen to brave GTA Online.

If you need a refresher, mod menus have been a prevalent issue for GTA Online for years. They essentially offer anyone who has one a number of additional actions they can take.. Players mainly use them to bypass GTA Online's microtransactions, though they can also bother other users by instantly killing them or turning them into other objects. Free mod menus are easier to obtain and more likely to lead to a ban as a result, with paid options generally being harder to track down. Since GTA Online's launch back in 2013, Rockstar has taken legal action (opens in new tab) against several mod menu distributors.

Over the years, players have increasingly turned to other means to gain protection against griefers. The fact you gain protection from one mod menu by buying another is a discussion for a different time, though one of the more popular methods people employ is a firewall called Guardian (opens in new tab). Initially created by a group called DigitalArc, what you get is essentially a stronger firewall than the one Windows provides. As GTA Online sessions are peer-to-peer, Guardian can be used to prevent your game from sending or receiving data from other players in your session. While Guardian can stand up against the new exploit, the developer of its most popular iteration - a modder called Speyeder - has hidden installs as they don't believe people slipping up and being exposed is worth the risk. 

Speyedr tells us that they initially became interested in online protection against GTA Online griefers after falling victim to it themselves. After coming up with their own solution and sharing it among friends, they were told about Guardian, which DigitalArc eventually made open-source after a GTA Online update broke it. While Speyedr's spin on the firewall has been popular since and works against the exploit, they tweet (opens in new tab) that "the chance of any user (especially beginners) setting up Guardian incorrectly in a way that doesn't protect them is too high for such a dangerous exploit".

"The main problem at the moment is that mod menus can infinitely spam their targets with exploits, and all it takes is for the victim to close Guardian for the exploit to finally make it through and affect them (crash, kick, or now bricking their account)," they tell us.

"That reason is mainly why I've hidden the builds for now. Any unsuspecting user who may try to use Guardian won't understand the risks they're putting themselves into and would likely fall victim to the exploit anyways because they didn't set it up or weren't using it properly."

Speyedr currently plans to make the firewall accessible again once the exploit has been sorted out. When that'll be, though, remains to be seen. As we wrap our conversation with Speyedr, we ask if the latest incident exists in isolation or forms part of a broader trend. For the GTA Online fan, it's the latter. 

"Things have been getting worse recently, yeah," they say. "There are hypotheses that the recent source code leaks for various parts of GTA Online are making it easier to discover game-breaking exploits like this. About a month ago, it became possible to remotely crash anyone's game, even in single-player. Guardian prevents that from happening by not allowing unknown sources to send data to the client, but it again requires proper usage."

Here's how to complete GTA Online Taxi Work - for when it's, uh, safe to do so.

Deputy News Editor

Iain joins the GamesRadar team as Deputy News Editor following stints at PCGamesN and PocketGamer.Biz, with some freelance for Kotaku UK, RockPaperShotgun, and VG24/7 thrown in for good measure. When not helping Ali run the news team, he can be found digging into communities for stories – the sillier the better. When he isn’t pillaging the depths of Final Fantasy 14 for a swanky new hat, you’ll find him amassing an army of Pokemon plushies.

With contributions from