Five charged with hacking Valve, Activision and Microsoft

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Four hackers aged 18 to 28 have been charged with a series of alleged breaches which resulted in the leaking of Modern Warfare 3, a Zombie Studios military simulator and pre-announcement details on the Xbox One. Two of the four charged - from Canada and the United States - have already pleaded guilty, while the remaining two based in the US are still being investigated.

The group faces an 18-count indictment which includes conspiracies to commit computer fraud, copyright infringement, wire fraud, mail fraud, identity theft and theft of trade secrets. According to a statement by the US Department of Justice, the group is allegedly responsible for stealing $100 million worth of intellectual property and proprietary data.

According to the department’s evidence, the group was responsible for allegedly hacking Microsoft Corporation, Epic Games, Valve Corporation, Zombie Studios and the US Army. While the Xbox One, Gears of War 3 and the Zombie Studios military simulator are all mentioned specifically, it’s unclear what data was obtained from the Valve breaches. The group is said to have accessed the information via SQL injection and stolen log-in information.

In addition to the four charged North Americans, the Australian hacker SuperDaE is also being charged under Australian law for his alleged involvement. SuperDaE, who claimed responsibility for a series of breaches similar to those described above, including the alleged sale of an Xbox One dev kit, became notorious last year when he was raided by Australian law enforcement, as Kotaku reports.

“The American economy is driven by innovation. But American innovation is only valuable when it can be protected," Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said in relation to the two guilty pleas. "Today’s guilty pleas show that we will protect America’s intellectual property from hackers, whether they hack from here or from abroad.”

Shaun Prescott

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.