Activision suffered a data breach in December, exposing confidential data and future gaming plans
The company confirmed the breach but denied data exfiltrationBy Alfonso Maruccia
The big picture: Activision is the publishing partner of the Activision-Blizzard conglomerate. A true giant of the video gaming business owning some of the most profitable game brands on the market, which could soon become part of the Microsoft empire if the highly debated merger finally comes to a close.
While everyone in the gaming world is still discussing the Microsoft-Activision merger, some unknown miscreants were recently targeting an Activision employee with an SMS phishing attempt. The employee was successfully hacked, and the cyber-criminals were seemingly quick to download a trove of confidential data about the company and its plans for the foreseeable future.
Activision confirmed the security incident, stating that on December 4, 2022, the company's "information security team" addressed an SMS phishing attempt and "quickly resolved it." After a thorough investigation, however, Activision has determined that "no sensitive employee data, game code, or player data was accessed."
According to statements and screenshots provided by security researchers at vx-underground, the phishing attempt was anything but "resolved" in a quick and painless way. The unknown hackers breached the account of a privileged user on Activision's Slack network, from which they exfiltrated "sensitive work place documents" as well as the schedule for future gaming releases up to November 17, 2023.
.@Activision was breached December 4th, 2022. The Threat Actors successfully phished a privileged user on the network. They exfiltrated sensitive work place documents as well as scheduled to be released content dating to November 17th, 2023.— vx-underground (@vxunderground) February 20, 2023
Activision did not tell anyone. pic.twitter.com/urD64iIlC5
The hackers put their claws on unquestionably sensitive data such as employees' full names, email addresses, phone numbers, salaries, work locations, and more. The hacked employee was seemingly working at Activision's Human Resources department, so he had access to a lot of confidential details about the company.
As for the gaming content schedule, the breach could have revealed the whole plans Activision has for the Call of Duty franchise in 2023. Such plans include the season-based additional contents to be released for Modern Warfare II, plus what should be the next installment in the COD gaming soap opera and is currently known as "Jupiter."
As details about COD plans date back to December, some of the information acquired by the hackers could be outdated by now. Furthermore, the information leaked online was seemingly based on marketing material and not related to any proper development environment. The fact that Activision "did not tell anyone" that they were breached, as vx-underground stated, could become yet another red flag put on the Microsoft-Activision merger attempt.