How the 2B2T Minecraft server was almost toppled by an exploit

2B2T (Image credit: ThebesAndSound)

Anarchy servers are among the most popular in all of Minecraft, and no anarchy server is more notorious than 2B2T. Featuring no rules at all and a map multiple terabytes in size that hasn't been reset or changed since the server was first brought online in 2010, 2B2T is known as a digital wasteland that's home to several ruthless player groups that typically employ hacks and exploits against one another and new players to steal items, grief bases, or go on murderous rampages.

This behavior is completely allowed in accordance with anarchy policy, but sometimes, players make use of exploits so dangerous that the server's admin is forced to step in for the sake of the health of the server and its community. And recently, one exploit brought 2B2T to its knees and nearly caused a mass exodus of players due to how potent and damaging it was.

The exploit that brought 2B2T to its knees started in 2018 as a simple server crashing tool.

Everything started in 2018 when two players discovered a vulerability in PaperMC, a plugin that fixes bugs and improves performance in multiplayer servers like 2B2T, that allowed them to trick the server into thinking that they were clicking on every block on the map — even in areas that weren't in render distance. This forced the server to load thousands and thousands of chunks (the 16x16 sections that make up Minecraft maps) at once, overwhelming it and causing a guaranteed crash. This exploit had the potential to cause serious issues for 2B2T, but the players who discovered it knew that it would be patched after using it a few times. They also theorized that the PaperMC developers would most likely implement a quick fix that would only allow the glitch to work in chunks that were loaded by players on the server. This would solve the crashing problem, but it also had the potential to make it possible to track the locations of other players all over the map since the exploit would still work in chunks being loaded by players across the server.

The group that discovered the original exploit decided to use it to hard crash the server multiple times and predicted that when the server's admin reported the issue to the PaperMC developers, the fix that would make their location tracking goal possible would be implemented.

Source: leijurv This heatmap was used in tandem with the exploit to track player location information. (Image credit: Source: leijurv)

The gambit worked, and the PaperMC developers created the patch that the griefers were hoping for. From this point forward, the users of the exploit — which was given the name NOCOM — began to use it to check whether specific coordinates on the map were part of a loaded or unloaded chunk. If a chunk was loaded, its location was recorded on a graph. With this method, the group was able to use their exploit to find and either steal or destroy several item stashes and bases over the course of 2018 and 2019. In the anarchy environment where everyone's items and bases are kept secret due to the threat of griefing, these sudden and devastating attacks began to alarm the 2B2T community.

To help ward off suspicion, the members of the griefing group took to the 2B2T subreddit and various 2B2T Discord communities to infiltrate discussion and argue that the concerns about a potential exploit were ridiculous and that people were just being paranoid. This tactic largely worked, and the community calmed down for a time.

The potency of NOCOM sharply increased in 2020 due to an adaptive tracking system.

In 2020, the potency and effectiveness of NOCOM sharply increased when the griefers included a talented programmer in their inner circle. This player improved the efficiency of the tracking tool by creating an advanced adaptive tracking system that was able to identify specific movement behaviors within loaded chunks and then use that data to predict where the player loading those chunks would go in real-time. The system would also search chunk data for common base building blocks such as chests, shulker boxes, and building materials like wood planks and stone bricks.

Source: u/RMFbucketglove Many bases, especially large ones, were found and griefed due to NOCOM. (Image credit: Source: u/RMFbucketglove)

Armed with this tremendously dangerous version of the exploit, the griefers began to ramp up their activity in late 2020 and throughout 2021. Bases were getting blown sky high with TNT left and right, and countless players were reporting that their item stashes were being cleaned out and then destroyed by an unknown thief. The community went into a panic in 2021, with many players opting to not log in to play out of fear for their base and valuables. For a time, it seemed like this exploit could be the death of 2B2T.

The damage caused by NOCOM has changed 2B2T forever.

The griefers knew that the server admin would eventually find a way to stop NOCOM, though, so over the course of June and July 2021, the group went on one final killing spree. Soon after, the server's admin finally managed to kill the exploit by limiting the number of packets that connected accounts could send to the server per server tick.

When the dust settled, there were thousands of players affected by the exploit, with over 200,000,000 items stolen and over 15,000 bases destroyed or located and put into a database by the griefers. And while the 2B2T community is finally able to enjoy its server again, the impact of NOCOM will be felt for years. The coordinates of thousands and thousands of bases have been compromised, and players won't be able to relax knowing that the griefers could leak the location of their builds to base hunters whenever they want to. Even though the server's darkest days are over, the fallout of NOCOM will change 2B2T forever.

Your thoughts

What do you think of the NOCOM exploit and 2B2T as a whole? Let me know. I think it's crazy how far some players are willing to go to attack others in this server, although there's something undeniably hilarious about how ruthless these people are in Minecraft multiplayer. Make sure you check out the full documentary video made by 2B2T YouTuber FitMC if you want to learn more about NOCOM and its impact on the server.

For some coverage on a more wholesome Minecraft experience, we recommend that you learn about the Autcraft server. Also check out some of the best Minecraft shaders on Windows PC, which make one of the best PC games look even better.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.