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Will the Rockstar Hack Delay Grand Theft Auto 6?

Image for article titled What happens if the Rockstar hacker leaks the GTA6 source code

Photo: Luca Lorenzellic (Shutterstock)

What is the impact of a serious hack earlier this week on Rockstar Games’ operations? The publisher of the game systems have been violated just days ago in what some are calling the largest hack of its kind in recent memory. Known for popular franchises such as red death the Grand Theft Auto, Rockstar said it was “extremely disappointed” that the “illegal” hacking episode had taken place. The hacker, who also claims to be the same culprit behind the… recent extreme Uber hackleaked video of early development footage of the upcoming GTA6.

So far, Rockstar has not said much about the impact the cyberattack is expected to have. In its initial statement, the company rejected the prospect of any long-term problems resulting from the breach: “We do not expect any disruption to our live game services, nor any long-term impact on the development of our ongoing projects. Gizmodo reached out to the game publisher for more information and will update our story if they respond.

Video game hacks have become more common in recent years. Only this past week, beta images of the next one Diablo IV used to be leaked to Reddit. Last summer, EA Games suffered a fairly disastrous hack where the game’s source code was leaked all over the internet. In the past hack-and-leak games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Half-life 2 led to epic problems for the game publishers behind them.

A gateway to cheating

One of the biggest concerns right now is whether the cybercriminal behind the attack will publish any more data. The hacker claims to have stolen the source code for both GTA 5 (published 2013) and GTA6 (rumored release date in 2025), posted selected screenshots of the code on an online forum, and has threatened to release the rest. Source code, the digital DNA of a program, is important proprietary information for any gaming company. Hypothetically, what could the release of such code really do?

Ben Ellinger, vice president of software production at video game design school Digipen, told Gizmodo that the impact of a hack depends on the type of code stolen. If the hacker managed to steal the code from the server for: GTA6that could potentially open Rockstar for a cheating problemthe professor speculated.

To understand the problem, some background information is needed game architecture. Online today multiplayer games are essentially designed to prevent players from cheating. The game’s code is split into two parts: the server-side code (which is managed remotely) server farms owned by the company) and client-side code (which runs on the player’s actual device, such as an Xbox or phone). Client code provides information about the user experience of the player, while the server code controls the gameplay itself. The code is partitioned this way out of necessity (you really can’t create an online, multi-player environment without some sort of cloud infrastructure) but it also helps to keep control of the game firmly in the hands of the company: players send their inputs (ie commands) to the server, and the server returns an updated version of the game that reflects the player’s input.

However, if a hacker gains access to the server-side code, it could allow them to see how the gameplay functions, ultimately allowing them to use that knowledge to develop new cheats. This may not seem like a big deal, but it can quickly become a major problem, Ellinger said. In this particular case, cheats can really disrupt gameplay, and if the cheats are sold or distributed to a wider subset of players, the scale of the problem could grow exponentially. Do hackers sell cheats online? Of course they do.

Safety Paranoia

Bellinger said another potentially negative side effect of a data breach is a shift in a company’s security culture that temporarily borders on paranoia. Companies will usually reassess their security procedures in an effort to avert the next incident, he said.

“The problem is that it is very difficult to determine whether [the hack] is just an outright security flaw…or whether it is human engineering.” By human engineering, Bellinger means that there is “someone inside who is complicit in this” [data breach] or unintentionally so – they were manipulated.” Employees are tricked into giving intruders constant access to corporate networks, even when those anti-phishing workshops are doing the rounds.

Bellinger said post-hacking culture shifts can hinder workflow and aren’t always helpful. They “can cause internal disturbances in the team because you are now in a state of near paranoia,” he said, explaining that companies go through a period of self-interrogation after something like this happens. “The worst case scenario for that is you lose months of inefficiencies that come out of that,” he said.

How much does a hack cost?

It’s not entirely clear how much this incident will cost Rockstar. Daniel Wood, an academic researcher who studies the cyber insurance industry, said if the company had cyber insurance, an insurer could have partially helped with the costs, but it’s not clear if Rockstar had it.

But even if they had, insurance might not have helped much in a case like this. “Cyber ​​insurance typically doesn’t cover lost intellectual property or reputational damage, in part because it’s difficult to quantify,” Woods says. “It appears that the Rockstar hack mainly damaged IP and reputation,” he said, adding that he doubted that “financial coverage would have helped in this case.”

There are also serious and often disappointing limitations to what kind of protection the cyber insurance industry can provide, Wood said. “Even when cyber insurance covers something, the insurance limit is often exceeded because insurers don’t feel comfortable offering limits in the hundreds of millions (to get this, policyholders have to buy insurance with a coalition of insurers),” he said. he.

It’ll be okay, maybe?

Big picture, what’s the damage? If it were a smaller game publisher, Rockstar’s fate would probably have been much worse. However, for a company with a fixed net income at hundreds of millions of dollars, it can afford to have a small egg on its face every now and then. According to Bellinger, it probably won’t be that big of a problem.

“It’s all right,” he said with a grin. It’s hard to imagine this will seriously deter the release of the new game, he added. “This is damn Grand Theft Auto. It’ll be fine. People will still be impressed as hell [with the game]she [Rockstar] still making billions of dollars. Ninety percent of the people who play it will never even register that this ever happened,” he said.

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