Frogster seeks legal action after hacker instigates blackmail
But community support for the mystery user grows as disaffection becomes increasingly evident
German MMO company Frogster has contacted police over a series of demands issued by an anonymous hacker, who purports to be a player of the company's games and has threatened to release account and user data on the internet unless the demands are met.
The demands centre on the improvement of customer and staff relations on the game and company forums, as well as the allegedly poor conditions which staff work under. The accusations included censorship and unfair pressure on forum users, as well as a lack of communication with, and respect for, players of the company's games.
A post by a user calling themselves Augustus87 on the Runes of Magic forum listing the demands was deleted by moderators, but not before somebody captured it and posted it to Kotaku. A YouTube user going by the name cptz3r0, which references Augustus87's user picture, has since uploaded a video to the site with further details of demands and motivations.
In the original post, Augustus87 made the claim that he or she had compromised much of the security measures in place in Frogster's systems, and would release the the user data of 1000 accounts on the forums of the company every day until demands were met. To back up his claim, Augustus87 published the details of 2000 users. This post was quickly deleted by the forum administrators.
Following that, the moderators made a formal response to the threats, claiming that the information released was from 2007, before Runes of Magic was launched and before the company underwent a security overhaul to protect users' data. The 2000 accounts affected have since had access, account settings and forum privileges revoked in order to "protect the affected players".
"We promptly assembled a task force and are of course making every effort to get to the bottom of this incident," read the statement. "We are utilising every means at our disposal to minimise the damage and to prevent such threats in the future.
"We have already implemented additional security measures today. As soon as all the necessary steps have been taken with regard to operational and criminal processes, we will inform you of further developments on this matter.
"This incident is very distressing to all of us. It is targeted not only at Frogster as a company, but also at Runes of Magic as a virtual biosphere and at you as players. We are always open to constructive suggestions. However, giving your opinion on blackmail and extortion is surely not the correct approach."
The revelation that the data released was 'outdated' has not assuaged the anger of the online community. Frogster has faced allegations of poor security and user protection before, and had denied all charges that data had been purloined by hackers at any point. Many of the forumites are taking the publication of the data as proof that Frogster was dissembling on this point, and that this data theft could be what prompted the "password reset initiative" which moderator Silberfuchs refers to.
Since the moderator's post, many members of the forums have expressed their support for the sentiments which Augustus87 voiced, although several are also critical of his methods and actions. The posts seem to indicate a rising level of frustration among players, disappointed with balance issues, poor staff communication and thread censorship. Moderator response so far has not indicated any progress on tracking the hacker.
Frogster has recently undergone a comprehensive high-level management restructure, with several senior members leaving in apparently acrimonious circumstances after a majority takeover by GameForge.