Valorant’s Anti-Cheat Vanguard Explained

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If you follow the Valorant Scene even somewhat closely, you likely have heard about its anti-cheat system, Vanguard. Vanguard is the in-house developed anti-cheat software by Riot Games, specially for Valorant. It was built from the ground up in two parts, a Kernel level driver and a client that checks for cheats while Valorant is running.

Why is The Community Having Issues With Valorant’s Vanguard?

During first install, Vanguard is installed alongside Valorant, requiring a reboot to play Valorant. This is because the Valorant Driver needs to be installed. For an anti-cheat software, Vanguard is unusually intrusive in how it scans and manages potential threats on your PC. It runs from the moment you start your PC, constantly scanning your PC and monitoring all active processes whether you are playing Valorant or not.

While that is good to maintain competitive integrity in the game, it grants unprecedented privacy risks as vanguard has full control over your system, and until recently, you were unable to turn this off.

“The Vanguard driver does not collect or send any information about your computer back to us,” Riot Anti-cheat lead Paul Chamberlain said in a Reddit post this week speaking to the community who voiced their fears. “Any cheat detection scans will be run by the non-driver component only when the game is running.” see Riots Vanguard Privacy policy here.

Privacy concerns aside, players are also having issues with Vanguard killing critical system processes and user applications that are required for components to function or to monitor your devices .

image of Vanguard killing CPUZ, a popular temperature monitoring software
source: @thessane

Players have taken to complain about this on Reddit and share Vanguard horror stories – you can check out a few of them here:
Vanguard Disables MSI afterburner – a utility for overclocking your graphics card
Player blocked from using his mouse and keyboard
Vanguard causes the infamous blue screen of death on windows 10 PCs

Experiencing an “Error Code 43”? See our guide to fixing this here

What is a Kernel Level Driver?

A kernel level driver is software that is installed at lowest level of your operating system. Typically any user installed software (things that didn’t come from the manufacturer), is not installed at such a low level of your operating system. The most commonly user installed software at this level would be an antivirus.

Image showing Ring 0 kernel level access
source: wikipedia

In recent years, cheats have been installed in various games using exploits in windows at the ring 0 level. To combat this, Vanguard also runs at ring ) level, monitoring known exploit methods and preventing other code from executing.

I want to play Valorant, How can i protect my data?

The short answer is not much. You just have to trust Riot Games wont use your data in a personally identifiable way and that will also be able to protect their servers, keeping hackers from accessing them as if an unauthorized individual is able to access the servers, they will have control over Vanguard, and it turn, total control over your PC, including documents, Passwords, Pictures etc.

The Long, much more technical answer is a few things.With the new update per community outcry, Riot added a few features to Vanguard, granting increased player accessibility.

Note that Valorant cannot be played if Vanguard is not running

Temporarily Turn off Vanguard

Vanguard can be temporarily be disabled from the system tray. If you dont see an icon there it means Vanguard is already disabled. This will last until a complete system reboot.

Uninstall Vanguard

Utilizing the same menu from the system tray, vanguard can also be uninstalled. This however will require Vanguard to be reinstalled. Vanguard can be reinstalled by starting Valorant, where it will automatically reinstall Vanguard. Like first install, this will require another PC restart to initialize vanguard and allow you to play Valorant.

As this is necessary for Valorant to work, there is no workaround to play Valorant while Vanguard is not installed or enabled. Attempting to Modify Vanguard behaviors or system permission can result in a permaban from Riot Games.

What if i play Valorant alot and don”t want to uninstall anything?

As is likely the case for most players, the only other solution is to move all personable identifiable files to another hard drive and physically disconnect the hard drive when Vanguard is running. Alternatively, creating a secondary partition on your existing hard drive, installing a second operating system there and then only installing vanguard on it.

Obviously these are not ideal solutions however not much else can be done to protect your data, since attempting to block vanguard from having free reign over your files will result in Valorant refusing to launch.

It is currently considered best practice to disable Vanguard if your not playing Valorant as it has been reported that it affects FPS in other games.

Riot has also offered a bounty of up to 100,000 to anyone who can bypass Vanguard.

If i sacrifice my data privacy can i at least play a game without cheaters?

Sadly, no. Despite all the measures that Vangaurd takes to maintain competitive integrity (also being a major part of their marketing campaign). Vanguard has already been bypassed by cheaters and aimbot and esp has made its way into the game. A clip posted by Twitch streamer GoldenHand7, shows just how destructive these cheats can be.

However, it is likely that with the level of difficulty that cheat developers have to develop cheats, Valorant may have the lowest level of cheaters, unlike other major FPS titles such as CS:Go, Overwatch, Rainbow 6 seige and Apex Legends.

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