If you've ever made an account on the popular GTA-centric fan website GTAgaming and used the same password anywhere else, now would be a good time to change said passwords. While usually hacks like this dent the prestige of the victim site at worst, this attack might have sealed the fate of not only GTAgaming but of their sister site, GTA4-Mods.com.
What makes this exceptionally sad is that we are talking about one of the oldest GTA fansite in existence. GTAgaming has been going strong ever since 2003, while their sister site went online in 2008. The main site contains some of the most extensive databases for walkthroughs, tools, tweaks, unofficial patches and mods for the older games, while the modding site is the largest one supporting downloads for the first of the HD universe releases.
However, due to staffing issues, both sites have been degrading, with the community desperately trying to hold things together. It's not that the sites aren't popular, but somehow the people running them simply don't have the time or resources to properly maintain such massive amounts of data, especially considering that they have community forums going.
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We believe our forum database has recently been compromised, which has given hackers access to email addresses, hashed passwords, and any other details you may have saved in your profiles. Upon logging into the site you will find you are forced to change your password, and shortly we will be force resetting all passwords not updated. We also recommend changing your password on any site(s) that may have used the same one.
Well, damn. The unfortunate hack happened due to the vulnerabilities in the vBulletin software used to power the forums. Though vBulletin used to be among the most common forum structures, many weaknesses that can be easily exploited by hackers have recently come to light. The hack of the GTAgaming forums has lead to the theft and sale of personal account data stolen from over 200,000 users.
Such hacks happen because many people still use the same passwords for multiple online services, meaning that if a hacker cracks one account, they'll have access to more. Information taken from personal accounts like names, birthdates and addresses are also used in identity theft. Usually when a forum is hacked, the data is then sold or posted to hacking forums where other malicious coders may used it to their benefit.
As a result of the hack, the team running GTAgaming has decided to axe the forums on the site. Users will now be much more limited in their interaction with one another as a result. The team has stated that they will remove the vBulletin software to prevent further breaches and better secure account data, but there are no plans to migrate to a new forum.
We have now closed the forums permanently, and any accounts not updated within the next couple weeks will be deleted from the database. We will be moving the account database into a more secure authentication system, removing all trace of the vBulletin forum software, and until then will be keeping a close eye to prevent any further compromises.
There is a reason why a new forum isn't considered - the very future of the sites are in question. This recent hack has the creators of the sites spooked, as they would not want to risk losing more of their user's data. If their attempts to secure the account information does not prove successful, the sites will have to go offline. Seeing as GTAgaming represents the hallowed old-guard of fansites, it would be nothing short of a tragedy to see them close their doors.
Are any of you active on either of the fansites?