E-sports network ESEA hacked, 1.5m records leaked

9 Jan 2017

The International/Dota 2 e-sports tournament in Seattle. Image: Jakob Wells/Wikipedia (CC BY 2.0)

More than 1.5m users of e-sports network ESEA have been affected by a major leak after owners refused to pay a $50,000 ransom demand.

ESEA is understood to have been hacked in December, affecting a database of 1.5m users.

At the weekend, ESEA posted a message to Twitter reminding players that the network was hacked and their details could be compromised.

Breach notification service LeakedSource revealed that 1,503,707 ESEA records were added to its database.

The records include usernames, first and last names, email addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, Steam IDs, Xbox IDs, PSN IDs and bcrypt hashes.

Players on Reddit have confirmed that their information is discoverable in the leaked data.

It is understood that the ESEA hack was part of an extortion attempt by hackers, whereby a sum of $50,000 was demanded if the hacker was to stay quiet and allow ESEA to quietly fix the vulnerability.

However, it appears ESEA did not play ball and instead reset passwords, as well as using multi-factor authentication and security questions, according to CSO Online’s Steve Ragan, aka Salted Hash.

The rise and rise of e-sports

ESEA is one of the largest gaming communities in the world, founded by the E-Sports Entertainment Association League.

It began in 2003, providing instructions for games like Counter-Strike and Warcraft, and became popular for its anti-cheating technology.

While defining e-sports as a sport is a controversial issue, e-sports is one of the fastest-growing gaming competitions in the world. It enables players and teams to take each other on in various real-time strategy, fighting, first-person shooter and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) tournaments.

In 2013, Red Bull estimated that some 71.5m people watched e-sports worldwide.

Some e-sports tournaments have become physical events, such as the League of Legends World Championship, the World Cyber Games, the Electronic Sports World Cup and the World E-sports Games in China.

In September 2016, the Dota 2 tournaments saw 632 registered players share $86m in prize money, with 23 players winning over $1m apiece.

The International/Dota 2 e-sports tournament in Seattle. Image: Jakob Wells/Wikipedia (CC BY 2.0

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years