In June, Vice reported that hackers broke into the systems of Electronic Arts (EA), one of the largest video game companies in the world, and stole source code used in company games. This should serve as a wake-up call to gaming companies to reexamine the resilience of their cybersecurity programs. Hackers bought an EA developer's cookie files for a few dollars on the Dark Web. They used the cookie files to gain access to the individual's EA Slack account, which enabled them to contact the IT department and impersonate employees pretending they lost their phones and needed a security token to access the company's internal server.
While the identity of the perpetrators remains unknown, they reportedly downloaded 780GB of data, including source code for games such as FIFA 21 and the proprietary Frostbite game engine.
Given the number of legal issues EA is facing — including over gambling in video games — any data coming out of the company could potentially have severe legal and reputational implications. In fact, governments are seeking sanctions against gambling in video games — especially in those geared toward young audiences.
This is just the latest in a series of high-profile hacks on gaming companies. As Yahoo News reports:
- In November 2020, a ransomware attack on Capcom may have revealed up to 350,000 users' personal information.
- In February 2021, ransomware attackers stole source code for several games from CD Projekt Red and auctioned it online.
Given the potentially devastating implications of these types of attacks, gaming companies must do more to protect themselves against hackers. The following are five ways they can do so.
1. Educate Your People
Companies need to provide professional training to cultivate cybersecurity awareness and improve the skills of their workforce. In EA's case, there should have been an extensive security check to validate the identity of the individuals looking for security tokens.
2. Enforce Policies and Procedures
When clear cybersecurity policies and procedures are put in place and properly enforced, an attacker has a much harder time abusing the human factor. These also make suspicious events stand out more.
3. Properly Allocate Cybersecurity Resources
While many online gaming companies have extensive security measures for Internet perimeters and gaming applications, they are insufficiently protected when it comes to their infrastructure. Companies must develop a better understanding of where to invest their resources based on data and mathematical models. By understanding and calculating the risk of each attack scenario, measuring business risks through correlating asset value, and evaluating the severity of vulnerabilities and threat-actor activity, companies can better evaluate the organization's security level, allowing them to invest resources smarter and more efficiently.
4. Use a Multilayered Approach
"Defense in depth" is a proven methodology to mitigate and prevent such incidents. This concept is based on building a multilayered approach to cyber defense, ensuring that hackers are forced to bypass many different security controls before they can infiltrate the organization, breach the network, and access its most critical business assets.
5. Employ Zero Trust
In this day and age, making the assumption that the front door is the only way into an organization's network is dangerous. A compromised employee, one-time physical access to an endpoint, or even proximity to an accessible Wi-Fi network are all valid entry points for hackers that could lead to extensive impact with short-term and long-term implications. To summarize, never trust, always verify.
Every organization must build cybersecurity programs to meet its specific needs. Therefore, companies need to understand their own threat landscapes and assess their cybersecurity postures in a holistic way that takes all organizational assets into account. They need to proactively take steps to protect themselves, ensuring that attackers lose the game when it comes to accessing their data, employees, and business crown jewels.