Thursday, August 09, 2012

Blizzard hacked; all players advised to change their passwords

The snowstorm of bad news continues for Activision Blizzard. The company has been taken to task for several things around its "Diablo III" game, including "always-on Internet," a disappointing endgame, and an auction house that seems designed to make a profit for the company (since it seems hard to get good enough equipment to finish the game without buying gold).

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Now, the company has been hacked.

The company doesn't believe that any financial information was compromised, but other data including email addresses for all non-China players and encrypted passwords were accessed.

The company uses the Secure Remote Password protocol (SRP) to protect these passwords, so it believes it would be extraordinarily difficult for hackers to access any accounts. Still, it is recommending that all users change their passwords.

This includes users that utilize the authenticator. These authenticators provide two-factor authentication for those logging into their account, whether it be through a game or a website.

An end user can either buy a stand-alone authenticator, or download an iOS or Android app to use, instead.

Here's what Blizzard CEO said on their site:
Players and Friends,

Even when you are in the business of fun, not every week ends up being fun. This week, our security team found an unauthorized and illegal access into our internal network here at Blizzard. We quickly took steps to close off this access and began working with law enforcement and security experts to investigate what happened.

At this time, we've found no evidence that financial information such as credit cards, billing addresses, or real names were compromised. Our investigation is ongoing, but so far nothing suggests that these pieces of information have been accessed.

Some data was illegally accessed, including a list of email addresses for global users, outside of China. For players on North American servers (which generally includes players from North America, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia) the answer to the personal security question, and information relating to Mobile and Dial-In Authenticators were also accessed. Based on what we currently know, this information alone is NOT enough for anyone to gain access to accounts.

We also know that cryptographically scrambled versions of passwords (not actual passwords) for players on North American servers were taken. We use Secure Remote Password protocol (SRP) to protect these passwords, which is designed to make it extremely difficult to extract the actual password, and also means that each password would have to be deciphered individually. As a precaution, however, we recommend that players on North American servers change their password. Please click this link to change your password. Moreover, if you have used the same or similar passwords for other purposes, you may want to consider changing those passwords as well.

In the coming days, we'll be prompting players on North American servers to change their secret questions and answers through an automated process. Additionally, we'll prompt mobile authenticator users to update their authenticator software. As a reminder, phishing emails will ask you for password or login information. Blizzard Entertainment emails will never ask for your password. We deeply regret the inconvenience to all of you and understand you may have questions. Please find additional information here.

We take the security of your personal information very seriously, and we are truly sorry that this has happened.


Mike Morhaime
This is just the beginning, as now the company will have to figure out what happened, and reassure users not only that it won't happen again, but that their information is still safe, especially their financial information (despite what Blizzard said).

This is just the beginning, not the end of the story.

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