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GameReplays invites white-hat hackers to probe site after data breach

An Anonymous hacker alienates potential supporters

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The owner of GameReplays.org has invited ethical hackers to probe the website for vulnerabilities after a recent compromise that resulted in 10,000 member accounts being exposed.

GameReplays.org is home to an online community of multiplayer game enthusiasts. The site organises professional gaming tournaments and publishes match replays, as well as strategy guides and other tips and tricks.

On Monday, a hacker who claims to be affiliated with Anonymous and uses the Twitter handle EcecusHxc, published a list of 5,000 GameReplays accounts that were copied from the site's database after exploiting a vulnerability.

The leaked information included email addresses and password hashes, as well as the corresponding salts - secondary keys used to encrypt password hashes so that they can't be cracked.

On Tuesday, the hacker published a list of an additional 5,000 GameReplays member emails and passwords, raising the total number of exposed accounts to 10,000.

According to GameReplays co-owner and general manager Jon LeMaitre, Ececus sent an email to the website's administrators on Sunday, claiming that he found a vulnerability and is willing to share the technical details if he is given proper credit for the discovery.

"Given that he sent the email in Spanish, and I was out celebrating Memorial Day weekend, I had no chance to address his email and thank him for alerting us to the issue," LeMaitre said in a blog post on Tuesday. "Because I was not able to respond to an email (written in a language I don't know), within 24 hours, he decided to go ahead and give himself credit for the hack."

Since Ececus didn't share the vulnerability details, the GameReplays team had to stop working on new website features that were in development, and dedicate their time to investigate the security issue.

The team plans to notify users who had their information exposed via email and the GameReplays forum. "Once this vulnerability has been fixed, we will re-salt everyone's passwords and take extra steps to make sure everyone's accounts are more secure in the future," LeMaitre said.

Ironically, GameReplays supports Anonymous' mission of exposing the corrupt links between businesses and governments that result in legislative proposals like PROTECT-IP, which threaten the very nature of the Web, LeMaitre said. "Sadly, there are people like _ecECus_ who give Anonymous and other hackers a bad reputation, since his goal isn't to help, but rather, to be immature and stroke his own ego."

Despite the bad experience with Ececus, LeMaitre is not discouraged from collaborating with hackers in the future and invited them to help locate vulnerabilities in GameReplays, but in a responsible manner. "Unfortunately, because we have such limited development resources, we cannot do this alone. Therefore anyone who helps us will be given due credit," he said.

LeMaitre's attitude toward unsanctioned security audits is similar to that of vendors like Google, Mozilla, Facebook or Twitter, which give credit, or even monetary rewards, to hackers who find vulnerabilities in their services and report them privately.



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