Rockstar Games hit by largest hack in gaming industry

Pictured is the Rockstar Games logo. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Luke Osciak | Arts & Entertainment Editor

A 3-gigabyte file containing videos of the upcoming video game, “Grand Theft Auto VI”, was leaked Sept. 18. All of the footage was uploaded to GTAForums, an online message board for fans of GTA to discuss the series. 

The files contained 90 different videos and 50 minutes of raw footage from early stages of game development. Since then, the footage has been spread all over the internet, and the leak has made national headlines. 

The footage shows very early development footage of basic aspects of the game. Most of the videos are under a minute long and have the developer user interface overlaid on the footage. However, the leaked footage did reveal the setting and the new protagonist of the game. Along with the footage, the hacker also made a ransom statement for the source code of “Grand Theft Auto V.” Under the alias “teapotuberhacker,” he posted the videos and claims on the GTAForums website.

“Hi, here are 90 footage/clips from GTA 6. It’s possible I could leak more data soon, GTA 5 and 6 source code and assets, GTA 6 test build,” the post read. 

He ends his post with a note on how to communicate with him through telegram and that he is “looking to negotiate a deal” with any Rockstar or Take-Two Interactive employees. 

That night, Rockstar Games began a mass takedown of any leaked videos that were being published. GTAForums and the GTA 6 subreddit were one of the first websites to receive a takedown notice from Rockstar’s parent company, Take-Two Interactive. 

Posts from the moderators of the websites stated that they are complying with the requests of Take-Two to remove any copyrighted material from their website. The original post on GTAForums was reinstated, but has been locked from receiving new comments and having anything related to the footage of the leaks removed. 

Rockstar was able to achieve this by using The Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This act proved that Rockstar owned the copyright to the footage that was leaked, and unofficially confirmed that the footage from it was indeed real. However, this was not the only course of action taken by Rockstar Games. 

The following day, Rockstar Games officially confirmed the authenticity of the leaks. 

“We recently suffered a network intrusion in which an unauthorized third party illegally accessed and downloaded confidential information from our systems, including early development footage for the next Grand Theft Auto,” a message posted to their Twitter account read.

Rockstar also reassured the public that this leak would not affect the long term development of the game. However, many journalists in the games industry are skeptical of this claim by the company. Bloomberg’s Jason Schrier notes that this leak could “limit work-from-home flexibility.” 

The working conditions of Rockstar’s game development studios has come under immense scrutiny in recent years. Specifically, the studio has received criticism for their intense periods of “crunch culture” placed upon the developers of its games. Between this hack, the high expectations for GTA VI, and the history of working conditions at Rockstar, the full scope of the effects of this hack will not be known until possibly years after the game has come out. 

During this period of time, Uber was also hacked. In a statement released by Uber, the hacker of Rockstar would also be confirmed as the same person that hacked Uber on Sept. 19. In their statement, Uber would reveal who they believed was responsible for the cyber attacks. 

“We believe that this attacker is affiliated with a hacking group called Lapsus$, which has been increasingly active over the last year or so,” Uber’s statement read. “There are also reports over the weekend that this same actor breached video game maker Rockstar Games. We are in close coordination with the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice on this matter and will continue to support their efforts.”

Uber went on to reveal in their statement that the hacker downloaded messages between employees through their messaging software Slack. The hacker also accessed invoices used by Uber’s finance team, and bug reports from the company’s software developers. The company confirmed that the hacker did not access any sensitive information: credit card numbers, bank account information or trip history. Uber ended the statement promising that this incident has led to a continued strengthening of the company’s security and that there is an ongoing investigation. 

A report came out from the City of London Police on Sept. 23. On the evening of Sept. 22, the City of London Police arrested a 17-year-old from Oxfordshire for suspicious hacking. Reporter Matthew Keys broke the news that this arrest was connected to the Rockstar Games and Uber hack earlier in the week. He broke the news via his Twitter account and confirmed the hackers affiliation with the Lapsus$ hacker group. Keys revealed more information about the arrest in his tweets.

“UPDATE: Arrest of a 17-year-old by police in the United Kingdom over the hack of Rockstar and possibly Uber was done in concert with an investigation conducted by the FBI,” Keys said.

As of the time of publication, there has been no further information on the arrest, nor has there been an official revealed identity of the hacker. The investigation is still ongoing. There have been no further statements from Rockstar Games, Uber or the City of London Police on the arrest. 

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