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    If security is 'slack' — what happened at Rockstar Games could happen to your company too

    If security is 'slack' — what happened at Rockstar Games could happen to your company too

    If security is 'slack'  — what happened at Rockstar Games could happen to your company too
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    By Vijay Anand   IST (Updated)

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    A hacker called 'Tea Pot' gained entry to an unsecured Slack channel used by Rockstar employees and got one of them to share secure access credentials. The hacker then stole 3 gigabytes of privileged information, which included more than 90 clips of the under-development and highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto VI. 

    The gaming world was ‘atwitter’ this past weekend after a hacker, who goes by the pseudonym ‘Tea Pot,’ managed to get hold of some 3 gigabytes of privileged information from Rockstar Games, which included more than 90 clips of the under-development and highly-anticipated Grand Theft Auto VI.

    What happened at Rockstar could very well happen at your company too, if you don't take steps to plug similar security loopholes — Tea Pot gained entry to an unsecured Slack channel used by Rockstar employees and got one of them to share secure access credentials. This is a ridiculously unimaginative way to compromise data and should have been foreseen. That said, it is also easy to see why it was not.

    The videos spread like wildfire across the internet, but Rockstar Games' legal team proved more than up to the task, taking down nearly all of the videos uploaded anywhere on the World Wide Web. The company issued a statement on Monday September 19, confirming that the leaked videos were of GTA VI, and assured fans that this will in no way affect the development of the game.

    While it was interesting to see the latest instalment in the wildly popular GTA series under development, equally interesting was the method in which Tea Pot managed to get their hands on the data.

    According to online reports, Tea Pot gained entry to an unsecured Slack channel used by Rockstar employees, and managed to convince one to give him secure access credentials.

    The leak, which is the biggest so far to hit the video game industry, has serious ramifications, both for employees and consumers, but more so for the former.

    Here are a couple of possible fallouts from this data leak:

    1. Heads could roll

    Rockstar's management will not be amused by the fact that an outsider managed to so easily phish an employee, that too on an unsecured Slack channel. It is very possible that the employee in question stands to lose his or her job, with the positions of all other employees on the channel too becoming precarious — privileged information was likely exchanged between employees on the channel, and Tea Pot possibly was privy to some or all of it. 

    2. Grand Theft Auto VI timeline could be affected

    For nearly a decade now, fans have been hankering after the next instalment in the Grand Theft Auto series. GTA V was released way back in 2013 and in the decade since, Rockstar has had only one major release — Red Dead Redemption 2. It was only recently that Rockstar confirmed that it was actively working on GTA VI and even killed Red Dead: Online to allocate more resources to the former.

    But given the incredible turn of events over the weekend, it will hardly come as a surprise when, inevitably, Rockstar pushes back the game's release. First, the company will run an exhaustive security audit to ensure its other assets are safe, and take corrective measures to ensure the leaked files are reclaimed — if possible. It is also possible that Rockstar will completely cut the content that has already been leaked, which means potentially months, or even years, for further development to make up for this loss.

    3. Developer morale could sink

    Game developers are unsung heroes. They sink hundreds of thousands of hours into games that most of us take about 25-30 hours to breeze through. Given the thankless nature of their job, Rockstar developers could easily be demoralised at the cavalier manner in which their hard work was laid bare for the world to see by an unscrupulous hacker.

    Rubbing salt into the wounds is how Tea Pot appears to be blackmailing Rockstar — pay millions of dollars or more data will be leaked.

    Not knowing what other data the hacker has could also affect developer morale as, to deal with the situation, the company could very well halt or alter the development cycle on the compromised game assets.

    Rockstar is not the first company to be hit by hackers. Just this year, hacking group Lapsus$ breached and stole data from Microsoft, Samsung, Uber, and NVIDIA, among others.

    This also goes on to show how companies need to be constantly on their toes as bad actors are constantly evolving and coming up with imaginative ways to steal their data.

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