Dec 19, 2023 - Technology

Hackers leak game plans in Insomniac Games breach

Illustration of a ransom note made of binary numbers.

Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The Rhysida ransomware gang has leaked a trove of internal documents stolen from Sony's Insomniac Games, including game roadmaps, character art, budgets and details about the highly anticipated Wolverine game release.

Driving the news: Rhysida dumped 1.67 terabytes of files, or a little more than 1.3 million files on its leak site Tuesday after Insomniac Games refused to pay a $2 million ransom.

Why it matters: An initial review of the leaked documents seen by Axios shows that the gang was able to grab some of Insomniac's highest value assets.

The big picture: Rhysida has become a prolific ransomware purveyor in recent months, targeting a wide variety of critical infrastructure organizations.

  • In August, the gang claimed responsibility for an attack on Prospect Medical Holdings and leaked more than 500,000 Social Security numbers.
  • Rhysida was also behind a ransomware attack on the British Library last month.
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued an advisory last month warning companies to be on guard for the gang and noted that Rhysida had already targeted organizations in the education, manufacturing, information technology and government sectors.

Catch up quick: Reports of a ransomware attack targeting Insomniac started last week, and the hackers gave the company six days to pay a ransom or face a leak.

  • At the time, an Insomniac spokesperson told Axios that the company was investigating the claims and it had "no reason to believe that any other SIE or Sony divisions have been impacted."
  • Insomniac did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Details: The trove of documents includes internal Slack messages between game developers, copies of employee's passport information and details about the company's royalty bonus plans.

  • The leaked documents also appear to include non-disclosure agreements between Insomniac and other companies, including Activision, Apple, NBCUniversal and other studios.

Thought bubble from Axios gaming reporter Stephen Totilo:

  • The scope of the hacked information is unprecedented even for the leaky video game industry.
  • Details of an upcoming Wolverine game's storyline or rough footage of the game in action may grab some public attention — and even motivate hackers to threaten other studios — but it's unlikely to blunt interest in the polished, finished game.
  • A leak of Grand Theft Auto VI footage in late 2022 didn't stop the game's first official trailer in late 2023 from garnering 100 million views in record time.

Yes, but: The documents have not been verified, and sometimes hacker gangs don't fully understand the data they've leaked.

  • It's possible the pieces of information in these documents are outdated and could be taken out of context.

What we're watching: The fallout from this leak — including the public disclosure of apparent budget and royalty cut documents — could cause a ripple effect across the industry as Insomniac's competitors get wind of what they're working on.

  • Law enforcement officials have also yet to crackdown on the gang or make any public comments about potential investigations.
Go deeper