In mid-June 2021 hackers breached gaming giant EA and stole a wealth of game source codes and internal system tools. This included the source code for FIFA 21. 780GB of data was put up for sale on various dark web forums. The hackers have now switched tactics and are releasing the data a little at a time.
This is a common re-extortion tactic if the initial theft doesn't cause the victim to react as intended and pay up. In this case, the hackers are openly confirming that they're releasing the data in an attempt to have EA engage with them and meet the ransom demands. So far, EA are holding firm. They have released a statement indicating that the data does not pose any threat to player privacy and there is no material risk to their games. Given that a game's source code is highly valuable IP the hackers are unlikely to want to give that away for free: equally EA will not want their data drip-fed into the public domain for too long. It will be interesting to see how this brinksmanship plays out. EA have confirmed that they are monitoring the situation and analysing the files released.
It is possible to issue a take down request on an ISP that is hosting illegally obtained data. This isn't easy, however, and the presence of multiple hacking forums where data can be posted can lead to a game of 'whack-a-mole' as the victim attempts to contain the stolen information when it pops up elsewhere. This latest development nevertheless demonstrates one of the tactics hackers will use to ensure a payday.
Hackers Move to Extort Gaming Giant EA