What is a VAC ban?

Don't hack and you'll avoid a VAC attack.

Image via Valve

One of the scariest terms in online gaming is “VAC ban.” No one wants to be VAC banned because it’s something that’s nearly impossible to come back from.

You’ve likely heard of the term “VAC ban” when playing games online on PC via Steam or even in Twitch chats when someone is cheating, accusing someone of cheating, or just a troll. But what does it mean?

VAC stands for Valve Anti-Cheat, which is an automated system that’s designed to detect cheats installed on a Steam user’s computer. If you’re banned by VAC, the ban is “permanent, non-negotiable, and cannot be removed by Steam Support.”

“If a user connects to a VAC-Secured server from a computer with identifiable cheats installed, the VAC system will ban the user from playing that game on VAC-Secured servers in the future,” according to Steam’s official description of VAC.

“The VAC system reliably detects cheats using their cheat signatures,” Steam said. “Any third-party modifications to a game designed to give one player an advantage over another is classified as a cheat or hack and will trigger a VAC ban. This includes modifications to a game’s core executable files and dynamic link libraries.”

You can find which games are VAC-enabled on Steam by searching, which brings up a list of at least 600 games that you can be VAC banned from.

Basically, don’t cheat or play games on Steam on a PC that has cheats downloaded and you’ll likely be fine.