Breach, Threat Management, Data Security

Game developer rebuffs demands of extortionist threatening to leak stolen Cyberpunk 2077 files

An extortionist who obtained internal files related to the upcoming multi-platform video game title Cyberpunk 2077 has threatened to publish the materials online if he is not paid off, according to the game's developer CD Projekt Red.

A division of Poland-based game publisher CD Projeckt, CD Projekt Red announced via Twitter on Thursday that it would not accede to the perpetrator's demand.

"The documents are old and largely unrepresentative of the current vision for the game," the company notes in its tweet. "Still, if you're looking forward to playing Cyberpunk 2077, it would be best for you to avoid any information not coming directly from CD PROJEKT RED."

It is not clear from the developer's announcement whether the files were stolen in a data breach executed by an external hacker or if they were physically stolen or uploaded by an internal threat. (CD Projekt Red informed SC Media that it is declining to comment further.) Regardless, the news is reminiscent of other recent threats to leak stolen films and TV series distributed by Netflix, Disney, and other media and entertainment companies.

In this case the cybercriminals are obviously aware that developing AAA games is an extremely competitive space. Any leaked information can be very damaging, said Mark Nunnikhoven, VP of cloud research at Trend Micro. (AAA is code for video games allotted the highest levels of budget and promotion)  "These games are all about the buildup with pre-orders and their opening week totals. This can make or break a development studio."

The manner in which CD Projekt Red is handling the situation is "fantastic," Nunnikhoven continued. "Getting out in front of the situation and establishing the clear message that they are the victims is a smart move. Letting the community know that the leak is stale and not representative of the games current state will lessen the impact." And refusing to pay up could also discourage similar plots in the future, he added.

Cyberpunk 2077, a sequel to the popular title Cyberpunk 2020, is a role-playing game that takes place in an open-world environment called Night City. CD Projekt Red is also known for its popular The Witcher franchise.

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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