EA games source code leak: How serious is it?

An exposed source code can be combed through by hackers and vulnerabilities can be exploited. It can also be sold to hackers.

EA games source code leak: How serious is it?
EA games (Image Source: EA)

American video game company Electronic Arts, popularly known as EA has become the latest victim of a high-profile cyberattack. Unidentified hackers have managed to siphon off some of the games’ source code and certain game developments tools.

The breach was first reported by VICE and EA soon confirmed the reports.

While speaking to the media, an EA spokesperson confirmed the incident and tried playing down the situation by saying that only a ‘limited amount of source code a and related tools’ were stolen.

“No player data was accessed, and we have no reason to believe there is any risk to player privacy,” said the spokesperson when asked about the risk to player data.

The post on a dark web forum by the hackers reveals that they possess a data dump of 780GB and this also includes Microsoft Xbox and Sony’s SDKs and API keys.

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A screenshot of the post by hackers

How serious is this?

In simple terms, source codes are the pillars of a program or a website. Some are ‘open source’ which means they are freely available while some a trade secret. An exposed source code can be combed through by hackers and vulnerabilities can be exploited. Also, it can be sold to competitors who would figure out the future plans of the company, the games under development etc.,

Moreover, the damage to reputation is not quantifiable. As seen in the past, the PR fallout post a source code leak is more difficult to deal with than the technical challenges.

Background

There have been many incidents of a game’s source code being stolen by hackers. In February this year, hackers stole the source code of Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3.

In March last year, a hacker got access to the source codes of AMD’s Navi 10 and Navi 21 devices. It also included the source code of the Xbox Series X video game console.

In 2013, the source code of multiple Adobe products leaked online. Even companies like Apple, Snapchat and Mercedes Benz have suffered source code leaks in the past.

As ironic as it may sound, cybersecurity giant Symantec had the source code of its antivirus software stolen in 2012.
EA, however, has said that it has upgraded its security following the incident and is also actively working with law enforcement agencies and experts from around the world.