E-Sports Entertainment Association (ESEA), one of the largest competitive video gaming communities on the planet, was hacked last December. As a result, a database containing 1.5 million player profiles was compromised. IT security experts from Tripwire, ESET and Positive Technologies comment below.

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Tyler Reguly, Manager of Software Development at Tripwire:

Tyler Reguly“There is a lot of money in video games and the in-game items associated with them. There are several websites that provide exchange rates for in game currency or items to real world dollars. Assuming credential reuse, gaining access to one set of credentials could allow you to gain access to various game accounts which would allow you to trade away or sell the in-game items. The concept of exchanging in-game assets for real currency is known as RMT (real money trading) and can be very lucrative. Some items can translate into thousands of dollars and, among the rarest of these items, are often the rewards for winning report tournaments. It is not unheard of for gamers to “retire” and pay for some, or even all, of their post secondary education by selling off entire accounts. Combine all of this with slow response rates from gaming company customer support and the fact that they often only punish the buyer rather than catching the seller, this is a very lucrative method of illegally making money.”

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Mark James, IT Security Specialist at ESET:

mark-james“Gaming entities and online profiles can be worth “real life” money, not to mention in some games the ability to sell in-game items for actual money can reap large payloads for some unscrupulous individuals. Gaining access to those accounts can be achieved by many ways, using malware to harvest login credentials or phishing scams to either trick the user into entering their details to “keep their account safe” or trying to validate a scam email by including something they can relate too. The details leaked from this breach could enable someone to do just that. The leaked records included the usual personal information – registration date, city, state (or province), username, email address, date of birth etc. It’s the Steam ID, Xbox ID, and PSN ID that are more likely to be used for further scams. You should always be extra vigilante of any emails or even calls you receive that want you to validate your login or any other personal information, check your financial statements and of course change any affected passwords from this breach.”

Alex Mathews, Lead Security Evangelist at Positive Technologies:

Alex Mathews “Source code scanners are actively used now both by hackers and security analysts. As our research show, you can find 10 times more vulnerabilities if you do source code analysis with proper automated tools compared to “black box” analysis when you don’t see source code. These findings could be used for new attacks – or for proactive defence (when the vulnerabilities are found by security an expert, this information is used to fix the code or to add virtual patches to an application firewall).

“As to TruffleHog, it is interesting tool but there are some drawbacks. First, this tool shuts down from time to time when it meets some special Unicode in the commits. Second, the “high shannon entropy” could be found in many different types of strings: GUID identifiers, tricky names of variables, obfuscated code et cetera. It leads the scanner to the high number of false positives. So, this method (in its current application) could be used to find “interesting elements” of the code but it requires a huge amount of manual analysis of those findings. It’s the most common problem for many source code scanners.

“However, this method could be developed toward more automated security scanner if machine learning is used: a statistical model that knows about possible GUID’s and other special features of the system may reduce the number of false positives.”

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