A History of Hacking in the Gaming Sector

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Crime in the video gaming space is as old as the industry itself. While pirating is the oldest form of crime related to video games, recent developments and technological trends, particularly online gaming, have ushered in new possibilities of cyberattacks. There are thousands of black hat hackers looking to swindle huge amounts of money from the gaming market which is worth over $100 billion.

The most worrisome thing is that publishers are not the only susceptible targets because hackers have been targeting individual gamers too. Recent trends have attracted a growing number of cybercriminals to the gaming space. 

These criminals find hacking gaming publishers and gamers lucrative for different reasons. This underlines the importance for developers, gamers, and manufacturers alike to take security more seriously. 

If you have to play video games online, ensure you follow security tips. The same goes for casino gaming. Choosing a gaming site carefully. Play JokerCasino online, or another equally safe platform.

 That said, this article will highlight the history of black hat hacking within the gaming industry. We will highlight the genesis of the problem as well as some of the biggest gaming hacks. 

A Brief History of Cyberattacks in the Gaming World

Video games are no stranger to cyberattacks. According to Akamai, the gaming industry is a growing attack vector for future security breaches. Over 12 billion credential stuffing cyberattacks were reported between 2018 and 2019. This number keeps growing. 

We will focus on some of the biggest security breaches in the gaming industry in the 21st century. 

The Early Days in Gaming Hacks

During the early days of the gaming industry, before consoles were even connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) devices, cyberattacks targeting gaming companies were low. In comparison to today, the amount of data and its accessibility to nefarious actors were close to insignificant. 

It was not until online gameplay and multimedia applications became a staple of gaming that cyberattacks began to ramp up. This has imposed devastating damages on gaming companies and their customers. 

Below are the biggest and most notorious cyberattacks in the gaming industry. 

2011 Attack on Sony’s PlayStation Network 

Not even the big fishes in the gaming industry cannot escape security breaches. This is evidenced by the 2011 breach on PlayStation 3, an attack that was arguably the biggest of its nature in the gaming world.

The attack was deemed an external intrusion by PlayStation Network in April 0f 2011. It was the most publicized cyberattack of the 2010s. the attack comprised data belonging to over 77 million users – the data included addresses, names, and other personal information tied to the 77 million accounts. 

However, Sony made a public statement clarifying that the attack did not break into the company’s financial information database. Either way, the attack triggered $171 million in losses incurred through security enhancements, future losses, and “apology” packages sent to consumers. 

Attacks on Xbox and PlayStation in 2014 and 2017

According to the Guardian, there was yet another attack three years following the infamous 2011 attack on PlayStation. The Christmas Day attack was conducted by the notorious hacker group Lizard Squad. 

Though not as devastating as the previous attack, it knocked out PlayStation Network and Xbox servers offline for the entire 2014 Christmas Day. The attack was packaged as a sophisticated distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. Lizard Squad did not hesitate to claim responsibility for the shutdown. 

This was not the only coordinated attack on Microsoft and Sony as a duo. In 2017, 2.5 million PlayStation and Xbox accounts were compromised following a security breach on the two gaming suppliers. 

While the damage from the second attack was not clear, what remains certain is that the juggernauts of PlayStation and Xbox will continue to be targeted by nefarious actors. 

Attack on Facebook and Zynga in 2019

Although Zynga is not a major player like PlayStation or Xbox, the supplier has had its time in the global gaming spotlight. Zynga is popular for creating Facebook games like Farmville and mobile titles like Words with Friends.

According to Norton, Zynga cybersecurity suffered a significant breach in September of 2019. The attack exposed about 200 million users’ personal information to attackers. The hackers gained unauthorized access to the database with account information belonging to players who had installed the mobile game Words with Friends. 

An online hacker by the name Gnosticplayers claimed responsibility for the attack which gave them access to usernames, email addresses, Facebook IDs, hashed and salted passwords, and phone numbers. 

It was reported that out of the 200 million Zynga users whose data got compromised, 172 million had their passwords stolen. These numbers make the Zynga cybersecurity breach one of the largest in gaming history. 

2020 Breach on Nintendo 

Nintendo’s breach is one of the most recent and hence cannot escape our microscope. Many consider Nintendo an older brother to PlayStation and Xbox. The gaming supplier witnessed a breach of 300,000 accounts by hackers as reported by TechCrunch. 

However, it was initially reported that the Japanese gaming company only had about 160,000 accounts exposed from the breach but the number ended up being almost double that. The breach was discovered after users began complaining about being charged for digital items that they had not even purchased. 

Nintendo made a public statement two weeks following the attack confirming that they had been breached. They responded by resetting passwords for affected accounts and refunding those who were improperly charged. The company also made an effort to contact affected users. 

The statement also clarified that the breach only affected 1% of their customer base. However, Nintendo did not reveal the details on exactly how the accounts were breached. They just stated that the hackers accessed the accounts by obtaining their passwords without breaching the company’s services. 

How Can We Learn and Grow from Past Cyberattacks?

While some may consider reviewing these cybersecurity attacks on gaming companies akin to throwing gasoline on the fire, we view them as an opportunity to learn and grow. Security breaches are not uncommon and they are only growing more popular in the gaming industry. 

Today’s world is comprised of more personal information databases than ever before. Therefore, businesses and customers need to learn how to identify potential threats to their cybersecurity and maximize defense against those threats.

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