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Hackers Target Videogame Publishers for Ransom, Source Code

Gamers have struggled with hackers who cheat and take over accounts for years. Now, videogame studios are coming under serious attack, prompting them to step up their cyber defenses.

6/16/2021 10:30:00 AM

Gamers have struggled for years with hackers who cheat and take over accounts. Now, videogame studios are coming under serious attack, prompting them to step up their cyber defenses.

Gamers have struggled with hackers who cheat and take over accounts for years. Now, videogame studios are coming under serious attack, prompting them to step up their cyber defenses.

Updated June 15, 2021 10:47 am ETGamers have struggled for years with hackers who cheat and take over accounts. Now, videogame studios are coming under serious attack, prompting them to step up their cyber defenses.Electronic ArtsInc.said Thursday it was breached by hackers recently, confirming an earlier report by technology news outlet Motherboard. That followed a disclosure by Polish game developer CD Projekt SA in February of a ransomware attack and a similar invasion of systems at

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Co.Ltd. last November.Each attack involved data theft, with schedules for coming Capcom releases posted on darknet forums for games including Resident Evil Village and Street Fighter.Hackers claim to have pilfered the source code for popular games such as EA’s FIFA series and CD Projekt’s Cyberpunk 2077, and the libraries of code and digital assets known as game engines used to create them.

Newsletter Sign-upCybersecurity news, analysis and insights from WSJ's global team of reporters and editors.PREVIEWSUBSCRIBERather than demanding ransom to not publish the source code, the hackers have instead said they would auction it on the darknet. headtopics.com

“When you have the keys to the kingdom, and you understand how the code is being written and how the applications are being used, that’s obviously more visibility than I think anybody would want,” said Mark Ostrowski, head of engineering atLtd., a cybersecurity provider that has worked with videogame companies on their security, including EA.

In response to the ransomware attack, CD Projekt said in a statement on June 10 that it redesigned its core information-technology infrastructure, upgraded firewalls, expanded its internal security team and engaged third-party specialists to assist with cybersecurity. A spokeswoman for the company didn’t respond to a request for comment.

A spokeswoman for EA said the company lost a limited amount of game source code and related tools during its attack, and it doesn’t believe player data was at risk. EA has a full-time internal penetration testing team in place, she said, and is following best practices such as those outlined in President Biden’s May 12

executive order on cybersecurity.Capcom said in an April 13 report that it had upgraded its technology and created a committee to oversee cybersecurity. A spokeswoman for Capcom referred queries on the attack to the company’s report.Videogame studios, however, face a number of challenges unique to their industry. The need to consistently stream large volumes of data into and from servers, which power online gaming, means security tools are often customized for a studio. headtopics.com

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Additionally, the digital nature of prized assets, such as source code, means that were a hacker to break in, crucial intellectual property can be targeted and stolen. Read more: The Wall Street Journal »

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