10 year-old FarmVille hacker finds crops-growing exploit while bored

Defon Kids Cyfi
Defon Kids Cyfi

CyFi, the 10 year-old hacker, discovered the security flaw in her farm game back in January, when she became tired of waiting for her crops to grow. Then she had an epiphany, "It was hard to make progress in the game, because it took so long for things to grow. So I thought, 'Why don't I just change the time?'"

By making small adjustments to the clock of her mobile device while manipulating the device's wireless connection, she was able to say goodbye to 8-hr pumpkins, tricking the game into letting her harvest her crops when she wanted.

This bout of ingenuity enabled her to run her own panel at DefCon in Las Vegas this past weekend, one of the world's largest annual hacker conventions, where she shared her discovery with other children. And of course, it also did away with her need for Instant Grow (just until the developers get things patched up).

While no one wants to spill the beans (yet) on which farm-style game it was, we can all make a safe bet that FarmVille is (or was) one of many games affected. So far, it appears that only games played on iOS and Android mobile devices (e.g. smartphones and tablets) were vulnerable.

Aside from letting you cheat by speeding up scheduled tasks in your games, CyFi's discovery has important security implications. As pointed out by BBC, "Details about what this bug opens up have not been revealed but such flaws are often used to let an attacker run their own code and get access to useful or saleable data."

[Image Credit: Seth Rosenblatt/CNET]

[Hat-tip: Know Your Mobile]