A source has told Kotaku Australia that the forums of EA's Melbourne-based studio FireMonkeys were hacked in September 2013. According to the source, the entire forum was infiltrated and taken offline. This hacked data allegedly included 40,000 usernames and passwords.
EA has confirmed to Kotaku that the hack took place.
Our source says that EA elected not to inform users, telling them the forum was being taken down for temporary maintenance. The forums were never restored and remain offline to this day. According to our source, employees at FireMonkeys worked diligently to restore the forums before being told by certain EA representatives to keep the site offline and not inform the community of the hack.
The hack occurred on September 8 2013. According to our source the forum site was taken offline using a known Vbulletin exploit. We are told that a hacker calling himself 'Shadow Haxor' claimed responsibility for the attack. This matches up with information found on 'Zone-H' – the internet's largest archive of defaced websites.
On Zone-H hackers will typically post proof of successful hacks in the form of mirrors. Shadow Haxor has claimed responsibility for over 750 hacks over the course of the last two years, one of which – he/she claims -- was the Firemonkeys forums.
The dates and the name of the hacker listed on Zone-H matches the information provided to us by the source.
The day after the alleged hack, FireMonkeys responded to users asking what had happened to the site and when the forums would be back online.
The FireMonkeys' official Twitter account tweeted the following on September 9, 2013:
"Hey Firemonkeys fans! We've taken our forums offline temporarily for maintenance."
One day later a follower asked for an update. He received this reply:
"We're still working on forum maintenance. We hope to have more news soon!"
Similar statements were posted on the FireMonkeys Facebook page.
At no point on the Twitter feed is any reference made to a hack or a security breach.
We contacted EA for comment and a spokesperson confirmed that a hack did indeed take place.
"EA Firemonkeys became aware of a cyber attack on a stand-alone Firemonkeys forum in September 2013," a spokesperson from EA informed Kotaku Australia. "Firemonkeys took immediate action by shutting down the forums and taking the server in question offline to prevent potential misuse. An investigation determined that a small number of customer email addresses were potentially obtained, but revealed no evidence of other information being accessed including passwords, names, security questions, payment information or any other sensitive data that could permit access to an online account. To be clear, no EA systems or databases were affected outside of the singular Firemonkeys forum. Firemonkeys took swift and appropriate action under the circumstances to address the issue."