Sunday, August 28, 2011

Activating the Phantom Zone

Some time ago I was given a copy of the Phantom Zone from Kalel Venkman of the JLU.  Last night I decided to activate the object for the first time in Parktown before a group of interested individuals so that they might examine it.  Besides several unaffiliated individuals, members of the Green Zone and The Wrong Hands were present.

The Phantom Zone is a device offered by the JLU to protect SecondLife land owners from griefers by maintaining a list of known griefers and banning them from your land before they arrive.  After the Red Zone and Onyx disasters, I was dubious of the device and chose not to deploy it.  To be honest, I forgot I had it until my name showed up on the SLList Blog and SL Universe forums saying I was among the people who had it.

It turns out to be a good thing that I never deployed the device, because two of my good friends were added to the list of known griefers for threatening to pretend to eat virtual SecondLife children.

Activating the Device
I had unpacked the device once before, but never activated it and was somewhat nervous about what it might do.  After a couple of false starts, I was able to activate the device and after a few seconds,. people there to witness it who we knew were on the known griefer list began to disappear.  The device added their names to my land's ban list.

Once I manually deleted the names from my parcel's ban list, the device seemed to stop working.  We brought in subsequent people who should have been banned like the first ones were, but, for some reason, it didn't ban them.  I couldn't tell if the device was broken, or if it was a normal function of it to quit working after you delete names, or if it was remotely deactivated.

What Does It Do?
Besides the mass bans, people were the most concerned that the Phantom Zone devices were collecting IP data and connecting it with avatar names.  We know the JLU collected IP information because it was part of the leaked Brainiac dump.  The question is: how were they getting the data?  Was it the Phantom Zone?

I can tell you that the Phantom Zone device in Parktown wasn't collecting IP data using known exploits.  Those of us with media filters activated would have been able to detect it.

Obviously, it could have used unknown exploits to harvest our IP's, but no one was able to detect this.  There are rumors of such unknown exploits going around, but no proof that I know of.

We decided to test the device to see what happened when I banned people from the parcel.  Different people watched the media settings on the parcel while I did it to see if there was any change.  The theory was that it might momentarily change the stream address to one that could harvest IPs when I ban people and then change back.

After some apologies, I banned members of our party.  The media section of the land controls did appear to blank out for a moment.  Two people saw it.  No substitute address, however, replaced the original one, so the test was far from conclusive.  It could have been an issue with our viewer or our graphics card.  No one's media filter alerted them to a change in media either.

In Conclusion:

  • The Phantom Zone device does appear to ban people from the known griefer list.  
  • It also appears to break easily, or for some other reason, stop banning people if you manually un-ban them.
  • We were unable to determine if the device collects IP addresses.  It DID NOT collect them using known exploits.
  • The scripts in the device are no mod/no copy so we weren't able to tell much about them.
  • Part of the device, called "the prism" appears intermittently and has the most active scripts.  We were unable to determine why the prism appeared and disappeared.  Maybe it was just because it looked cool.
  • The Phantom Zone device was built to resemble the one used in the Christopher Reeves Superman Movie.

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