- E3 apologized for leaking the names, phone numbers, email addresses, and home addresses of more than 2,000 YouTubers, journalists, and analysts who received press passes for the 2019 E3 conference.
- The data was temporarily accessible in a downloadable Excel sheet on the E3 website.
- Those who had their information leaked say they have fallen victim to prank texts and calls, with several reporting threats involving references to their homes.
- Some are calling for a class-action lawsuit, and lawyers say the severity of the threats could provide substantial grounds for a case against the Entertainment Software Association.
Data Leaked on E3 Website
The private information of 2,025 YouTubers, journalists, and Wall Street analysts was leaked after E3 posted a downloadable link with that data to its website.
The link was titled “Registered Media List” and could be found on the “Helpful Links” page. Information within it included names, phone numbers, email addresses, and even the home addresses of those who received press badges to attend this year’s June convention.
“[Entertainment Software Association] was made aware of a website vulnerability that led to the contact list of registered journalists attending E3 being made public,” the association said in a written statement released Saturday. “Once notified, we immediately took steps to protect that data and shut down the site, which is no longer available. We regret this occurrence and have put measures in place to ensure it will not occur again.”
Even after ESA deleted the “Helpful Links” page on Friday, anyone using a Google cached version of the page could have still accessed the confidential Excel spreadsheet. The original file has since been completely deleted, but a copy has already been distributed in online forums.
On Saturday, the ESA also began reaching out to those affected.
“We provide ESA members and exhibitors a media list on a password-protected exhibitor site so they can invite you to E3 press events, connect with you for interviews, and let you know what they are showcasing,” the ESA said in its message. “For more than 20 years there has never been an issue. When we found out, we took down the E3 exhibitor portal and ensured the media list was no longer available on the E3 website.”
As of Monday, visiting the page results in a 404 Error.
So far, the ESA has not commented on how the dox occurred.
YouTuber Sophia Narwitz first broke the story on Friday and claims to have reached out to the ESA within 30 minutes of learning of the leak.
“In an era of swatting and much worse, it is a colossal fuck-up that the ESA would mishandle data in this capacity,” Narwitz said in a YouTube video.
Several YouTubers said they have already fallen victim to spam calls and texts. Many worry that the leak — particularly of private addresses — could lead to more dangerous consequences.
A few journalists have indicated that they have personally received threatening emails with their home addresses or photos of their homes.
“That [the ESA] would put people at risk in this capacity is beyond my understanding,” Narwitz said.
Narwitz cited incidents involving a journalist’s assault by an Antifa group, mass shootings by individuals with far-right ideologies, and general toxic culture spurred by internet trolls.
Many have been critical of the ESA over the information breach.
Several gamers have even called for a class-action lawsuit against the ESA for leaking their private information, with many criticizing the ESA’s use of the phrase “website vulnerability” when the file was uploaded to the website rather than obtained through hacking.
Stephen McArthur, who uses the moniker “The Video Game Lawyer,” told Game Daily the ESA will “almost certainly” face a lawsuit by the end of August for failure to exercise reasonable care with the information.
Though lawyers have said the case could gain traction in court because of the threats journalists have experienced, attorney Sarah Wesley Wheaton said the ESA is not likely to lose a case involving password protection and lack of security.
“There has never been a successful case against a company for failing to impose strict enough login credentials and I assume similar reasoning will apply [here],” she told Game Daily. “While there weren’t any login credentials in ESA’s case, because the personal information seems mostly limited to names and addresses and did not include social security information or other embarrassing personal information, the lack of encrypted spreadsheets would likely not be considered unfair by the FTC.”
The ESA will need to report the dox to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has the power to launch an investigation.
See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (PCMag) (Kotaku)
Hackers Hit Twitch Again, This Time Replacing Backgrounds With Image of Jeff Bezos
The hack appears to be a form of trolling, though it’s possible that the infiltrators were able to uncover a security flaw while reviewing Twitch’s newly-leaked source code.
Hackers targeted Twitch for a second time this week, but rather than leaking sensitive information, the infiltrators chose to deface the platform on Friday by swapping multiple background images with a photo of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
According to those who saw the replaced images firsthand, the hack appears to have mostly — and possibly only — affected game directory headers. Though the incident appears to be nothing more than a surface-level prank, as Amazon owns Twitch, it could potentially signal greater security flaws.
For example, it’s possible the hackers could have used leaked internal security data from earlier this week to discover a network vulnerability and sneak into the platform.
The latest jab at the platforms came after Twitch assured its users it has seen “no indication” that their login credentials were stolen during the first hack. Still, concerns have remained regarding the potential for others to now spot cracks in Twitch’s security systems.
It’s also possible the Bezos hack resulted from what’s known as “cache poisoning,” which, in this case, would refer to a more limited form of hacking that allowed the infiltrators to manipulate similar images all at once. If true, the hackers likely would not have been able to access Twitch’s back end.
The photo changes only lasted several hours before being returned to their previous conditions.
First Twitch Hack
Despite suspicions and concerns, it’s unclear whether the Bezos hack is related to the major leak of Twitch’s internal data that was posted to 4chan on Wednesday.
That leak exposed Twitch’s full source code — including its security tools — as well as data on how much Twitch has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019.
It also revealed Amazon’s at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library, codenamed Vapor, which would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.
Even though Twitch has said its login credentials appear to be secure, it announced Thursday that it has reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Users are still being urged to change their passwords and update or implement two-factor authentication if they haven’t already.
Twitch Blames Server Configuration Error for Hack, Says There’s No Indication That Login Info Leaked
The platform also said full credit card numbers were not reaped by hackers, as that data is stored externally.
Login and Credit Card Info Secure
Twitch released a security update late Wednesday claiming it had seen “no indication” that users’ login credentials were stolen by hackers who leaked the entire platform’s source code earlier in the day.
“Full credit card numbers are not stored by Twitch, so full credit card numbers were not exposed,” the company added in its announcement.
The leaked data, uploaded to 4chan, includes code related to the platform’s security tools, as well as exact totals of how much it has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019.
Early Thursday, Twitch also announced that it has now reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Streamers looking for their new keys can visit a dashboard set up by the platform, though users may need to manually update their software with the new key before being able to stream again depending on what kind of software they use.
As far as what led to the hackers being able to steal the data, Twitch blamed an error in a “server configuration change that was subsequently accessed by a malicious third party,” confirming that the leak was not the work of a current employee who used internal tools.
Will Users Go to Other Streaming Platforms?
While no major creators have said they are leaving Twitch for a different streaming platform because of the hack, many small users have either announced their intention to leave Twitch or have said they are considering such a move.
It’s unclear if the leak, coupled with other ongoing Twitch controversies, will ultimately lead to a significant user exodus, but there’s little doubt that other platforms are ready and willing to leverage this hack in the hopes of attracting new users.
At least one big-name streamer has already done as much, even if largely only presenting the idea as a playful jab rather than with serious intention.
“Pretty crazy day today,” YouTube’s Valkyrae said on a stream Wednesday while referencing a tweet she wrote earlier the day.
“YouTube is looking to sign more streamers,” that tweet reads.
“I mean, they are! … No shade to Twitch… Ah! Well…” Valkyrae said on stream before interrupting herself to note that she was not being paid by YouTube to make her comments.
The Entirety of Twitch Has Been Leaked Online, Including How Much Top Creators Earn
The data dump, which could be useful for some of Twitch’s biggest competitors, could signify one of the most encompassing platform leaks ever.
Massive Collection of Data Leaked
Twitch’s full source code was uploaded to 4chan Wednesday morning after it was obtained by hackers.
Among the 125 GB of stolen data is information revealing that Amazon, which owns Twitch, has at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library. That library, codenamed Vapor, would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.
With Amazon being the all-encompassing giant that it is, it’s not too surprising that it would try to develop a Steam rival, but it’s eyecatching news nonetheless considering how much the release of Vapor could shake up the market.
The leaked data also showcased exactly how much Twitch has paid its creators, including the platform’s top accounts, such as the group CriticalRole, as well as steamers xQcOW, Tfue, Ludwig, Moistcr1tikal, Shroud, HasanAbi, Sykkuno, Pokimane, Ninja, and Amouranth.
These figures only represent payouts directly from Twitch. Each creator mentioned has made additional money through donations, sponsorships, and other off-platform ventures. Sill, the information could be massively useful for competitors like YouTube Gaming, which is shelling out big bucks to ink deals with creators.
Data related to Twitch’s internal security tools, as well as code related to software development kits and its use of Amazon Web Services, was also released with the hack. In fact, so much data was made public that it could constitute one of the most encompassing platform dumps ever.
Streamer CDawgVA, who has just under 500,000 subscribers on Twitch, tweeted about the severity of the data breach on Wednesday.
“I feel like calling what Twitch just experienced as “leak” is similar to me shitting myself in public and trying to call it a minor inconvenience,” he wrote. “It really doesn’t do the situation justice.”
Despite that, many of the platform’s top streamers have been quite casual about the situation.
“Hey, @twitch EXPLAIN?”xQc tweeted. Amouranth replied with a laughing emoji and the text, “This is our version of the Pandora papers.”
Meanwhile, Pokimane tweeted, “at least people can’t over-exaggerate me ‘making millions a month off my viewers’ anymore.”
Others, such as Moistcr1tikal and HasanAbi argued that their Twitch earning are already public information given that they can be easily determined with simple calculations.
Could More Data Come Out?
This may not be the end of the leak, which was labeled as “part one.” If true, there’s no reason to think that the leakers wouldn’t publish a part two.
For example, they don’t seem to be too fond of Twitch and said they hope this data dump “foster[s] more disruption and competition in the online video streaming space.”
They added that the platform is a “disgusting toxic cesspool” and included the hashtag #DoBetterTwitch, which has been used in recent weeks to drive boycotts against the platform as smaller creators protest the ease at which trolls can use bots to spam their chats with racist, sexist, and homophobic messages.
Still, this leak does appear to lack one notable set of data: password and address information of Twitch users.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the leakers don’t have it. It could just mean they are only currently interested in sharing Twitch’s big secrets.
Regardless, Twitch users and creators are being strongly urged to change their passwords as soon as possible and enable two-factor authentication.