CD Projekt Red received very disappointing and surprising news on Tuesday the 9th of February 2021. The firm announced to the public that it has experienced a targeted cyber-attack, and that the attackers are holding them for ransom. The yet unclear thing is the entity that hacked the company, and why they did so.
Gambling sites are main targets of attacks like this because the hackers know that they have a chance of receiving money. CS:GO gambling sites like those found at CSGOStake are often done by people who can’t wait to win skins and prefer to cheat instead. That being said, cyber-attacks have always been there anyway, and game companies have had it very rough in the hands of the attackers, losing millions of dollars in the process, with their services being disrupted in major ways.
So, we have decided to take a look at the major cyber-attacks in the history of online gaming and also talk about some of the most notorious hackers that perpetrate these crimes.
Taking a Look Back
It was on the 2nd of November 1988 that the first ever documented cyber-attack happened. This was given the name Morris Worm, and it was perpetrated by the American computer scientist, Robert Tapan Morris, who is currently a professor in MIT. In his attempt to access how big the internet was, he designed a worm. However, in his curiosity, he bagged a jail term, making him the first ever convict under the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of the United States.
You can attribute the attack to a comedy of errors, because it was never Morris’ intention for the worm to go that far. He never did it with malicious intent, as he was only trying to ascertain and showcase the level of web security weaknesses. The intention was for the worm not to be detected, but it grew out of hand and caused a very huge damage, and to remove it from the web cost up to $10 million. Morris got a fine of $10,050, 3 year probation and 40 hours of community service for this – a sentence which many people may consider very little.
Since after that, many cyber-attacks have been executed in history, with varying companies, platforms and governments as the targets. However, where video games are involved, the most common of all cyber-attacks is the Distributed Denial of Service or DDOSing. It’s good to note that this is not hacking so to say, even though it’s a type of cyber-attack.
Notable Cyber Attacks Victims
These attacks have been witnessed by some of the biggest names in game development. We have to check out who got what below.
Riot Games is the firm that gave the world the amazing Valorant and the League of Legends. It has been DDoS’d and hacked on several occasions in the past. The first huge attack that the League of Legends witnessed was in 2012, and it was carried out by Lulszec, a black heart group of hackers that has also perpetrated many cyber-attacks on many digital services, government organizations inclusive, in the past.
Now, you also have to understand that by a black hat hacking group, we mean a set of people that are in the service of breaching computer security protocols for malicious and selfish reasons. That’s unlike their white hat counterparts who are ethically motivated, and who are normally out to undo what the black hat hackers do.
After a statement by the co chairman and co-founder of Riot Games, Marc “Tryndamere” Merril, through the LOL forum on the 9th of June 2012, it was discovered that the personal data of the league community has been compromised. Riot has still not been able to pinpoint the exact time the attack took place. This opened the gaming company up for a set of various cyber-attacks in the future. Between the 19th of December and 6th of January 2014, a hacking group named DerpTrolling again perpetrated a number of DDoS attacks on their online gambling services, websites and servers. It was on the 13th of December 2013 that they attacked the servers of the League of Legends with a DDoS and brought it down for several days.
That was not enough, as another hacking group later struck the serves of the league. The Lizard Squad did their DDoS attack on the LOL servers on the 18th of August 2014. It is good however, to note that Riot Games had its most recent attack on the 16th and 17th of January 2020. This time, the team based competitive tournament mode of LOL named Clash was the target. This led to an official statement from the Tech Lead of Riot Games, Brian Bossé, through twitter. Of course, this won’t be the last attack that riot would have to contend with, but with the lineup of attacks explained above, you must have gotten a clear picture of some of the attacks it has witnessed so far.
Capcom became the victim of a ransomware cyber-attack towards the ending of last year. However, the street fighter creators weren’t keen on revealing the extent of damage done, as they only announced on the 4th of November 2020 that they’ve experienced an attack. On the 12th of November, they also stated that the stolen data was those of the 9 previous and current staff, and that they also stole some corporate data.
However, on the 16th of November 2020, Capcom told the world that they witnessed a much worse attack than they believed, revealing that the personal data of more than 350,000 business partners and customers has been compromised.
They used the statement to line up the possible data breaches that they experienced, presenting the timeline of the happenings and how they intend to solve the problem. It was also revealed by the firm that the attackers demanded a ransom, and made the name of the black hat group public. The story was that the firm got a message from a criminal hacking group named Ragnar Locker, and after they ascertained that the group was demanding ransom money, they had to contact the Osaka Prefectural Police. Capcom also explained why the scope of the attack took them so long to understand. In their words, it took more time to investigate and analyze the incident because of issues like the data saved on their servers being strongly encrypted, and the access logs being deleted by the attackers.
A number of DDoS attacks have befallen the game servers and battle.net clients of Activation Blizzard in the past. From February to September of 2010, the European server of the World of Warcraft of blizzard was a several DDoS attacks target of a 38 year old Romanian hacker named Calin Mateias. However, on the 7th of May 2018, he was jailed for one year.
Blizzard was also among the several gaming firms that the DerpTrolling targeted in 2014, while the Lizard Squad attacked them on the 13th of April 2016. Both attacks focused on breaching the battle.net and making it impossible for players to have access to their popular titles like Hearthstone, Diablo 3, World of Warcraft, and Starcraft.
However, in the recent past, a set of DDoS attacks has come Blizzard’s way, with the UK drillas claiming to be the hand behind an attack on the servers of the WoW Classic in September 2019. Blizzard witnessed up to four DDoS attacks within a week, although the conviction of some players is that the massive increase in the number of players on the server after the physical isolation by the government due to the health crisis brought about the outage. Blizzard witnessed another DDoS attack on the servers of World of Warcraft on the 7th of January 2021.
CD Projekt Red
With these, we get to the CD Projekt Red. They announced a cyber-attack on their internal network on the 9th of February 2021. According to the hacker that carried out the attack, they were able to steal the source code of the yet to be released version of Witcher 3, Gwent, Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077. They also claimed that they’ve succeeded in dumping all investor relations, human resources, legal, administrative and accounting documents of the firm. They claimed also that the firm’s entire servers have been encrypted by them, though they accepted that the firm can easily recover the servers through backups. The stolen data was held to ransom, giving CDPR only 48 hours to comply with their demands. But the firm refused and the data was auctioned on the dark web by the hacker. The buyer and what they intend to do with it has not been ascertained, even though they bought it for $7 million, and agreed not to sell or distribute it. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.