Activision Has Been Pwned As It Were A N00b Playing Call Of Duty

It appears that video game company Activision has been pwned by hackers. And this hack is really bad. Here’s a quick synopsis:

  • Sunday 2/19 – Cybersecurity research group vx-underground Tweeted screenshots of data purportedly stolen from Activision, including a content release schedule for Call of Duty.  “Activision did not tell anyone.”
  • Monday 2/20am – Insider Gaming said it confirmed the Activision data breach after obtaining “the entirety” of the stolen data (not published by vx-underground).
  • Monday 2/20pm – Nothing to see here: “Following a thorough investigation, we determined that no sensitive employee data, game code, or player data was accessed.” Activision confirmed to Bleeping Computer that their systems were breached through an SMS text phishing attack on an HR employee, gaining access to their Slack on December 2 and tried to trick other employees into clicking malicious links..
  • However, Insider Gaming claims to have reviewed the entirety of the stolen data, saying the data also contained sensitive employee information, including full names, emails, phone numbers, salaries, places of work, and more.

And seeing as they are being purchased by Microsoft, this could not have come at a worse time for the company. And Activision’s response to this has been, shall we say, sub-optimal.

David Maynor, Senior Director of Threat Intelligence at Cybrary had this to say:

   There is no one “SOP” for breaches. This timeline shows a typical public reaction to a breach. Some entity, in this case VX-Underground, notices something on a market and tells the world about it. Reporters that follow VX-Underground use it as a tip and suddenly the victims switchboard/email server gets loaded with requests for comment. 

   “There is also the fog of war effect where different people have different parts of a puzzle and make assumptions. This leads to different hot takes contradicting each other.

   “From the trial last year of the Uber CISO, Joseph Sullivan, we know that big corps can handle breaches differently. What I can say from personal experience is that the responses to questions as well as public statements are approved by if not written by a crisis communications team. The default response is deescalate, deflect, then deny. This is why the infosec community values technically insightful Root Cause Analysis (RCA) from a victim.”

Tim Morris, Chief Security Advisor, AMER at Tanium follows up with this:

   “There is conflicting information on this one. Specifically, about what was accessed /stolen. Regardless, the initial attack vector was a social engineered phishing/smishing attack, obtaining access via SMS / 2FA. Proving once more that SMS / 2FA isn’t the most robust form of authentications and other, stronger MFA methods should be used.

   “Also, training of users is still needed. Users should treat SMS messages with the same scrutiny as email phishing scams. Be wary of phone calls from “IT Support”. Unless initiated by the user, they should be suspect. Either ignore or call back to a known number. For SMS, ignore and never give out any 2FA codes sent via text.

   “Principle of least privilege needs to be implemented, so that if/when an employee’s account credentials are stolen the “blast radius” is small, i.e. what the attacker has access to is minimized. Threat hunting, good incident response, and monitoring are key to find these intrusions quickly, and limit their reach.

   “Have a good PR plan on what to do when a breach happens. This successful attack happened two and a half months ago, and is only public now because some leaked data was published on vx-underground.”

Given the profile of Activision who makes the Call Of Duty franchise, and their relationship with Microsoft, a lot of eyes are going to be on this one. If I were Activision, I’d be working very hard to find out what happened, what was stolen, and how to stop this from happening again. Then I would put all of that out in the public domain as quickly as possible. Because right now, Activision look like a bunch of n00bs.

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