Last night EA revealed that it has been the latest victim in a spate of hacking incidents to plague the industry. The hackers themselves have confirmed that they have managed to get their hands on a significant batch of source code. The plunder includes code for a number of EA’s most successful titles, such as the FIFA series, as well as code for EA’s proprietary Frostbite engine.
The story broke first on VICE, which claimed that over 780GB was taken. EA followed up the announcement saying that no play information was taken in this incident, which will be a relief to the millions of customers to one of gaming’s biggest companies. There were an estimated 7.5m Fifa 20 players in the last 30 days alone.
But of course it’s not a one trick pony. Love them or loath them, EA is one of the largest games companies in the world. Aside from FIFA, it counts a vast array of incredibly popular titles, including Battlefield, Titanfall, Apex Legends, and The Sims among titles it either develops or publishes. This along with the annual instalment of any number of sporting franchises. Remember EA Sports? It’s in the game.
EA Claims No Likely Impact on Business
EA had this to say about the hack,
“We are investigating a recent incident of intrusion into our network where a limited amount of game source code and related tools were stolen. No player data was accessed, and we have no reason to believe there is any risk to player privacy,”
Following the incident, the company claims to have already improved security and, further, that it “did not expect an impact on our games or our business”. All well and good, but the horse has well and truly bolted.
EA has labelled the breach as a “network intrusion” and stated for the record that this was not a ransomware attack. In the report issued by Vice, it included pictures of the hacking forums that have been utilised by the hackers to advertise the stolen data for sale. They also included the following quote, which was posted on those same forums, and appears to be from the hackers themselves, saying “You have full capability of exploiting on all EA services,”.
What’s in a Hack?
This is the latest in a spate of recent hacks seen by the gaming industry in recent months. Last November, Street Fighter and Resident Evil franchise owner Capcom was hit by a ransomware attack. In the incident, the hackers threatened to reveal the personal information of over 350,000 players.
In February of this year, CD Project Red, developers of last year’s biggest release (and, arguably biggest disappointment) Cyberpunk 2077 was also faced with a ransomware attack. This inevitably resulted in the theft of source code for several games, later auctioned off on the dark web. Although it is unconfirmed, the perpetrators claimed to have made over £4.9m from the heist.
Source code is a version of computer software which is usually much easier to read and understand than the end version in a finished product, and could be used to reverse engineer parts of the product.
It’s not yet clear what the hacker’s intentions are for the stolen EA source code, although sale is the likely intention. Better still, they could look into the FIFA source code and determine, once and for all what lies beneath the scripting claims. Or better even still, they could sell the Frostbite engine to Bethesda, given it a chance to finally, finally just fucking kill the Creation Engine.
Now we are not condoning digital theft, or hacking in anyway. But surely either of those two slightly eccentric uses of the code could atone the devious act just a little?