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EA hackers steal source code for FIFA, Battlefield game series

Stolen data has now been posted for sale on the dark web

Hackers have downloaded approximately 780GB of data from video games publisher Electronic Arts (EA) and are in the process of selling portions of the cache to buyers on the dark web.

The publisher, which manages popular series such as FIFA, Battlefield, and The Sims, said in a statement that a limited amount of game source code and internal tools were stolen, according to Motherboard.

The cyber criminals responsible are now actively selling portions of the stolen data through the dark web, according to screenshots seen by the publication, and are seeking serious buyers.

EA has said that the incident did not involve ransomware, but the company is yet to detail how the hack unfolded.

Other stolen data includes source code and tools for the Frostbite gaming development engine, proprietary EA frameworks, and software development kits (SDKs), with the compromised cache totalling roughly 780GB.

Screenshot of a cached website showing hackers selling data belonging to games publisher EA

A cached web page dated 6 June suggests buyers can attain "full capability of exploiting on all ea services" for the cost of "28m". The post also claims to have taken charge of the FIFA 21 matchmaking server and FIFA 22 API keys. The cyber criminals also provided samples of the stolen information.

"We are investigating a recent incident of intrusion into our network where a limited amount of game source code and related tools were stolen," an EA spokesperson told Motherboard and other publications in a statement. 

"No player data was accessed, and we have no reason to believe there is any risk to player privacy. Following the incident, we've already made security improvements and do not expect an impact on our games or our business. We are actively working with law enforcement officials and other experts as part of this ongoing criminal investigation."

IT Pro has asked EA to clarify the nature of the attack, and confirm whether or not it was a ransomware incident. 

EA is the latest gaming company to be hit in a cyber attack after the Polish developer CD Projekt was compromised in February this year.

Hackers stole company data as well as encrypted a number of developer devices in a ransomware attack, before subsequently auctioning off stolen assets in a self-described "charity fundraising" exercise.

Although hackers are selling off portions of the data they seized, cyber security specialist with ESET, Jake Moore, suggested the attack likely wasn't financially motivated.

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"Attacks on games publishers are usually for other reasons such as cheat making or underground community kudos," he said. "Gaming source code makes a popular target for cheat makers and their communities, so protection must be water tight.

"There will be an inevitable indirect financial hit as EA recovers from a frustrating strike, but luckily this is not related to ransomware like many other current targeted cyberattacks delivering a two-pronged attack."

Challenged on why the hackers are seeking buyers for the stolen data if it isn't financially motivated, Moore added: "Of course malicious actors can attempt to profit from any attack when it suits them".

"It is common for games publishers to have their data stolen purely for cheat makers," he continued, "but if this comes at a time when such data is seen to have a greater value than normal, the attackers have possibly noted this change in demand and decided to profit from it."

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