CSGO Devs Answer Questions on How New ‘Trusted Mode’ Works

by in CS:GO | Jul, 14th 2020

The new “trusted mode” for CSGO launched last week to some fanfare – was Valve finally solving the issue of cheaters in the game that’s plagued it for nearly 8 years? As it turns out, the answer is a resounding ‘maybe.’

The new trusted mode did launch with some issues for certain users, but it seems that Valve is quickly attempting to iron these out in order to build player confidence. They’ve even released a FAQ detailing exactly what the new Trusted Mode does, and why players should have more confidence in their CSGO games when it’s turned on.

What is CSGO’s Trusted Mode?

CSGO’s Trusted Mode is Valve’s attempt at making sure that players cannot execute files inside of CSGO, a process called “injecting code” into the game. This is how most wallhacks, aimhacks, maphacks, and other cheats operate within the game. By removing the ability to inject code, this should eliminate the likelihood of running into cheats, and indeed, make cheats that bypass this even easier to combat.

Valve’s solution seems to be to both provide a way for players to play without foreign application injections, and an update to their policy to include VAC bans for any targeted process tampering.

Trusted mode gives players a way to launch CSGO and ensure that they do not accidentally run software that injects into the game,” Valve explained. “While in Trusted mode, software that normally would inject into the CSGO process is rejected. Because CSGO has protected itself, any injections that occur are not accidental and therefore subject to a VAC ban.”

Of course, players can just launch the game not in Trusted Mode and still cheat by injecting code, however, this would hurt their Trust Factor, and limit their ability to queue up for matches with other, more trustworthy players.

“We expect that some cheaters will simply run in normal mode and avoid a ban for injecting software into the game,” Valve said. “But over time, we also expect that they will experience significantly reduced Trust because their pattern of software injection will be associated with cheating.”

Unfortunately, a side effect of this new policy change means that a number of mods and the like will no longer function, even those that just aimed at assisting you to get better at the game. A blanket ban means no whitelist, after all.

“Unfortunately, even benign applications are often a vector for cheats that hijack them in order to cheat in CSGO. So in Trusted mode, all foreign software is blocked,” Valve said. “Note that in normal mode, some application injections may also be blocked. To inject into CSGO in normal mode, the software DLLs must be signed. Injections by unsigned DLLs will result in CSGO launching in insecure mode, which prohibits playing on VAC-secure servers.”

Why Are Some Players Having Issues With Trusted Mode?

While Trusted Mode should give cheaters yet another barrier they have to surpass in order cheat, some users have reported issues with legitimate programs or other programs that run in the background behind CSGO.

“Earlier versions of CSGO’s Trusted Mode would refuse foreign software injection in a variety of ways, but all countermeasures take place inside the CSGO process,” Valve explained. “As a result, if those countermeasures violated expectations of the software being injected, a crash would occur inside CSGO.”

However, it seems that Valve has already found the solution to this issue, and should have the problem ironed out in a recent patch, with continuing updates to it as time moves forward.

“By capturing the vast variety of software the CSGO community is injecting (both on purpose and by accident),” Valve concluded. “We’ve identified a technique that defeats injection in a manner that is both safe and high performance. Once this solution ships, users should no longer experience crashes.”

Indeed, Trusted Mode also seems to be causing some frame rate issues, but Valve says that’s on the side of the software developers that have developed really persistent programs, rather than anything CSGO is doing on its own. This has led to some reported lag in mouse movement.

“Sometimes applications attempt to inject during low level Windows mouse events, which results in noticeable performance degradation when the mouse is moved,” Valve explained. “We are internally testing a mechanism that has virtually zero overhead, even for the most zealous of injecting software. Once this new approach ships, players should no longer notice a performance impact from running in Trusted mode, even when moving the mouse.”

Why Does Trusted Mode Matter?

CSGO’s trusted mode is a good step in the right direction for Valve, who has been battling cheaters by VAC bans for years now. Despite millions of VAC bans, cheating was still an issue.And with CSGO’s competition, namely Valorant, picking up steam, it’s more important thana ever that players have high confidence that every interaction that they have in the game feels fair, and as though it wasn’t computer assisted on the enemy side.

This should also be a boon for the pro community, because with trusted mode running, it should be far harder to cheat in general, and pros will get accused of cheating far less. This is an issue that’s ongoing even today, as we saw in the cause of Brazilian CSGO pro Leaf who plays for Chaos Esports.

With a safer and more fair playing environment for all, CSGO can continue its dominance across the esports ecosystem, both giving players the confidence to grind and get better, as well as inspiring fans that every play they see on social media is the real deal.


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