March 14, 2021 Last updated March 14th, 2021 455 Reads share

CD Projekt: What We Know About the First High-Profile Ransomware Attack to Target Gamers in 2021

Image Credit: DepositPhotos

The turning of a new year inevitably brings with it a few unexpected bumps in the road, and 2021 is no different – particularly for the gaming industry, which, between Google’s ruthless cutting of their Stadia development team, ongoing stock shortages the world over for Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X, and CD Projekt’s continued difficulties in making CyberPunk 2077 fit for purchase, has brought a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘hard times’.

What’s more, it looks as though the hard times are still far from over for this particular game developer, as it recently became clear that CD Projekt is the first big-name developer to fall prey to a high-profile ransomware attack this year.

It is an immutable fact of the internet that each year, cybercriminals grow somehow more devious, more persistent, and more opportunistic; the landscape of personal and commercial cyber security is constantly reshaping itself against threats which, for the individual and the global conglomerate alike, grow more pressing with every passing day.

The Growing Concerns of Safe Gameplay

There is a wide array of concerns that must be taken into consideration in any online game. From the point of transaction to in-game communication with other plays – not to mention the same server attacks and data breaches that threaten any company operating online, in any capacity, today – any game development studio worth their salt will dedicate many hours to ensuring their defenses are watertight.

And that’s not only because the developers don’t want a headache further down the line; in fact, around 75% of gamers say their primary concern is for security issues that will become increasingly prevalent in the gaming world. More and more, expertly curated resources like give gamers ready access to sites which utilise only 128 or 256 bit SSL encryption, in order to prevent them from falling foul of a site that will mishandle their sensitive data. Similarly, game distribution platforms like Apple’s App Store are refining their approach to informing users of security measures and flaws with their ‘nutrition label’ style infoboxes, which must be provided by third-party developers.

What Happened to CD Projekt?

The ransomware attack, which first occurred back in early February, targeted CD Projekt’s internal systems; from there, the hackers managed to harvest the source codes for multiple titles, including an unreleased version of The Witcher 3. These source codes were sold via an online auction, for which the starting bid was $1 million – although no source is available on the winning bid.

The ransomware continues to interrupt business as usual for the development company, with many members of staff still unable to work as investigations continue on.

The Gaming World: A Readymade Target

Unfortunately, this sort of attack is not a new occurrence in the gaming world – and it certainly won’t be the last of its kind. Gamers represent one of the largest targets in the world, and the development companies – particularly those that exist at the forefront – represent an incredibly lucrative source – both of unique data like source codes, which go for a high price online, and of user data, which can include a wide array of identifying information.

The gaming world will, unfortunately, need to devote more and more resources into their security protocols in the coming years, as a growing list of hackers attempts to cash in on the exploitation of this highly lucrative industry. For both the individual gamer, and the Triple-A Developer, an unwavering awareness of the risks at hand – and how to avoid them – will become increasingly necessary this year, and beyond.

Ransomware -DepositPhotos

Harry Green

Harry Green

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