Wolverine: What we know about the cyberattack that leaked one of PlayStation’s most anticipated games | Science & Tech News

One of the most anticipated video games currently in development has been leaked online after a cyberattack.

Marvel‘s Wolverine, based on the X-Men superhero, has been in the works at PlayStation studio Insomniac.

Fans have been eagerly awaiting more details about the project since its announcement in 2021, especially given the team’s acclaimed Spider-Man games.

But their first look in more than two years has come via hackers, who have also leaked internal company emails and information about Insomniac employees.

Here’s what we know about the attack and who was behind it.

When and how did the attack happen?

Insomniac was hacked on 12 December, but it took a week for the stolen data to be leaked.

It was a ransomware attack, with the group responsible, Rhysida, demanding a $2m (£1.6m) payment.

When it was not forthcoming, more than a million files were uploaded to the dark web and some of it – notably early footage from Wolverine – has wound up on social media.

According to cybersecurity firm Mandiant, Rhysida hackers typically gain access to their victims’ data using stolen credentials gathered via techniques like phishing.

Malware is then used to infect their computer network and steal files before demanding payment.

Who are Rhysida?

Cybersecurity company Secureworks believes the group dates back to 2021 and may be partly based in Russia.

Most of its victims are in Europe and the US, where the FBI has issued a warning about the threat it poses.

Last month, it said Rhysida ransomware had “predominantly been deployed against the education, healthcare, manufacturing, information technology, and government sectors since May 2023”.

Other targets have included the British Library in November.

Chirstopher Budd, director of threat research at Sophos, said groups like Rhysida were getting “bolder” and testing new methods to “dial up the pressure on their victims to make them pay”.

He said the Insomniac leak is a “natural progression of these sorts of scare tactics”.

Why was Insomniac targeted?

Rhysida told the Cyber Daily website the motive was financial, and game studios are an “easy target”.

The industry is notoriously secretive about upcoming projects.

Not only is this to build excitement and surprise fans, but also to protect the developers.

Games look rather ropey during development, something many players don’t appreciate, and anything shown before release – like a gameplay demo – will be carefully crafted to look polished.

In the case of Wolverine, all that had been shown was a tightly-edited teaser trailer.

Kimberly Goody, head of cybercrime analysis at Mandiant, said the secrecy surrounding such projects made the entertainment industries an appealing target for hackers.

Previously, TV shows like Game Of Thrones and games like Grand Theft Auto (GTA) have been hit.

Ms Goody said: “With how much planning, marketing and behind-the-scenes labour that goes into producing these, these threat actors know they can often inflict greater cost and disruption on their victims by leaking this content.”

Spider-Man gets a darker suit to match his latest game's darker tone. Pic: Sony
Spider-Man 2 is one of the best-selling games of 2023. Pic: Sony

What has Insomniac said about the attack?

The developer, fresh off its Spider-Man 2 game, is yet to comment.

Sony and Marvel have also not responded to the leak, which is the biggest in the industry since footage from GTA 6 leaked after a hack of studio Rockstar.

That did prompt a statement from the creators, though an official look at the project didn’t arrive for over a year.

Given the scale of the Insomniac leak, a statement should be expected from the studio or Sony.

As well as footage from Wolverine and employee information, it also includes the developer’s planned line-up of upcoming games up to 2035 and the plans of some of Sony’s other studios.

Sky News has decided not to publish any of the leaked details.

Sony has been contacted for comment.

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