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So say you love a game passionately but you see a few flaws that you feel could be corrected with a reasonable amount of effort. You love the community and the majority of the employees working for the company responsible for the game so how do you spur the change you desire to make the game a better experience for everyone? How about hack the personal information of your fellow players and threaten the publishers with the mass release of people’s private information unless they meet your demands? Such is the situation facing Frogster the German publisher responsible for the free-to-play MMORPG Runes of Magic.
The biggest fan you wish you never had
In mid-January a hacker posted on the Runes of Magic forum that he had hacked the servers for the MMO and was prepared to release the personal information including e-mail addresses and payment information of fellow gamers unless his or her demands were met. Posting under the name Augustus87 the demands were quickly pulled off the forums but not before copies were made and a screen shot was sent to Kotaku.
At first glance the demands are fairly selfless. The poster wants less censorship on the forums improved treatment of Frogster’s employees better treatment of the customers (ironically) with more respect and a better control over the game’s “cheating.” For a passionate fan of the game his demands are almost noble. Then he went and threatened to release the private information of 1,000 of his fellow gamers every day. To prove it wasn’t an empty threat he then released the personal information of 2,000 users including their billing information. The police were then notified.
In an interview with Gamesindustry.biz Frogster claimed that the names were from 2007 before a major security overhaul occurred. The developer then revoked the access account settings and forum privileges of the 2,000 in order to “protect the affected players” (the affected could then create new log in data to retrieve their game data).
Augustus87 claimed to have the information of 3.5 million users which in Germany where Frogster is located makes him a felon. Although German police do not seem to have made much progress in identifying the person responsible an investigation is ongoing.
Despite the threat to the users and despite the method the hacker is using many forum posters have claimed their support of Augustus87. Frogster has long faced criticism (likely both fair and unfair) for its security and many accounts have said to have been hacked although no proof has ever been found to confirm that — which may be the specific reason behind the hacker’s demand to “tell the truth” about lost e-mails or accounts.
“We promptly assembled a task force and are of course making every effort to get to the bottom of this incident. We are utilizing every means at our disposal to minimize the damage and to prevent such threats in the future,” Frogster claimed in a statement from mid-January.
“We have already implemented additional security measures today. As soon as all the necessary steps have been taken with regard to operational and criminal processes we will inform you of further developments on this matter.
“This incident is very distressing to all of us. It is targeted not only at Frogster as a company but also at Runes of Magic as a virtual biosphere and at you as players. We are always open to constructive suggestions. However giving your opinion on blackmail and extortion is surely not the correct approach.”