Polish game developer CD Projekt RED (CDPR) announced earlier this week that it had been the victim of a ransomware hack. As part of the operation, the attackers stole internal documents and source code, which they threatened to sell if CDPR declined to pay the ransom. Cybersecurity experts now say that the hacking group has followed through and sold the stolen data for an undisclosed sum.
When it announced the hack, CDPR confirmed it would not pay any ransom. As part of the intrusion, the unknown perpetrators encrypted data in hopes of forcing CDPR to negotiate. However, the developer says it will simply restore backups and move forward. Naturally, the hackers sought to auction the stolen data online. Shortly thereafter, the source code from CDPR’s Gwent card game leaked, effectively confirming the hackers had the goods.
Several cybersecurity Twitter accounts that were monitoring the sale have now confirmed the auction has ended early. According to posts from a representative of the group, they received an offer from outside the hacking forum where the action was running. They decided to sell the data to this buyer and end the auction early. Before the mysterious outside offer, the hackers were asking for bids of $ 1 million or more with an eBay-style buy-it-now price of $ 7 million.
CDPR has not confirmed exactly what materials were stolen, but the cache of data is believed to include source code for Cyberpunk 2077, The Witcher 3, Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales, and an upcoming ray-traced version of The Witcher 3. The hackers also claimed in the ransom note that they had also obtained internal documents that would be embarrassing to CDPR. The stolen data might begin appearing online in the future, but someone might have spent millions of dollars buying it. It’s unlikely anyone would do that just to release the source code, but perhaps it was those internal documents that interested the buyer.
Update: we have confirmed the auction has closed. Someone has indeed purchased the material.
In just the last few months, CDPR has seen its reputation take a beating. The incredible success of The Witcher 3 and the hype for Cyberpunk 2077 made it the darling of the gaming community, but the sad state of Cyberpunk at release cost CDPR dearly. The game was barely playable on current-gen consoles, and even the PC version required flagship video cards to run acceptably. Sony and several other vendors offered refunds to unhappy gamers — Sony even pulled the game from its online store.
CDPR has promised it will roll out several updates to address the shortcomings in Cyberpunk. Several small bug fix updates have rolled out, but you still can’t get a haircut in the game.
We know much more about how the universe works today than we did just a few decades ago, but there will always be new mysteries to solve. In recent years, scientists have puzzled over the riddle of fast radio bursts (FRBs). These short-lived electromagnetic beacons can outshine entire galaxies, and we haven’t been able to figure out what causes them. A trio of new studies report on an FRB within our own galaxy. Because this one was so much closer than past signals, scientists were able to track it to a particular type of neutron star known as a magnetar.
Despite the immense amount of energy emitted during an FRB, scientists didn’t know they existed until 2007. That’s when a team discovered the first FRB hiding in data acquired back in 2001. Since then, astronomers have spotted numerous FRBs throughout the cosmos. However, this phenomenon seemed to be non-repeating until the discovery of FRB 121102. We now believe this radio source operates on a 157-day cycle, which makes it easier to study.
With the data from FRB 121102, magnetars merged as a plausible candidate. Like pulsars, magnetars are a subset of neutron stars. They don’t spin as quickly as a pulsar, but they have an incredibly intense magnetic field. At about a trillion times as strong as Earth’s magnetic field, a magnetar can disrupt the electron orbitals in molecules, essentially halting chemistry in any normal matter that gets too close.
That brings us to SGR 1935+2154, a magnetar about 30,000 light-years away. That’s not close by any means, but it’s still inside the Milky Way. Back in April, this dead star woke up and began firing off high-energy photons, which was normal. However, two instruments were on the hunt for FRBs at the same time, and that’s what they found exactly when SGR 1935+2154 lit up the sky. Both the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) and Survey for Transient Astronomical Radio Emission 2 (STARE2) detected an FRB from this object.
We can’t call this one solved quite yet, though. As the researchers point out in the papers, the apparent FRB from SGR 1935+2154 was only about one percent as powerful as the FRBs we’ve seen from outside the galaxy. It’s possible only very young and energetic magnetars can produce bursts visible from a few galaxies away. Perhaps SGR 1935+2154 is displaying the same phenomenon at a lower level of power. If the team can prove that this object produced FRBs, we can refine our models and hopefully mark this one down as solved.
U.S. federal health officials say an outbreak of salmonella infecting nearly 400 people in more than 30 states has been linked to red onions, and they identified a California company as the likely source.
The Food and Drug Administration said in a statement on Friday that Thomson International Inc. of Bakersfield, Calif., has notified the food agency that it will be recalling all varieties of onions that could have come in contact with potentially contaminated red onions because of the risk of cross-contamination.
This recall would include red, white, yellow, and sweet onions from Thomson International, the agency said.
The company couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said salmonella newport has sickened 396 people and landed nearly 60 in the hospital. There have been no deaths linked to the outbreak, which was first identified July 10 and has since grown. The agency says the illnesses began between mid-June and mid-July.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is also investigating an outbreak of salmonella newport illnesses with a genetic fingerprint closely related to the U.S. outbreak, the agency said Thursday.
According to an agency release, there have been 55 additional cases of the bacterial infection in Canada since the outbreak was first announced, for a total of 114 cases across five provinces between mid-June and mid-July.
Sixteen people have been hospitalized. No one has died.
People in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario are being asked not to eat any red onions imported to Canada from the U.S., including food products containing red onions, until more is known about the outbreak.
A breakdown of cases shows 43 have been reported in B.C., 55 in Alberta, 13 in Manitoba, two in Ontario and one in P.E.I. involving someone who reported falling ill after travelling to Alberta.
Federal officials say Saskatchewan is investigating some salmonella newport illnesses but has not confirmed that they’re related to this outbreak.
Nintendo is notoriously secretive about its development process, but we just got a glimpse of how the sausage is made thanks to a massive leak of data from the Nintendo Wii and N64. Among the thousands of files posted online in recent days are the source code for the Wii operating system, detailed design documents, and software demos for the Nintendo 64.
The files first appeared on 4chan, a largely unmoderated online forum that has given rise to Anonymous, QAnon conspiracy theories, and uncountable memes. We won’t link to the leaked Nintendo data, but it’s easy enough to find with a Google search. We don’t know who posted the files (4chan is anonymous by default) or if it has anything to do with the recent hack of Nintendo’s online service. The timing is suspect, though. However, online chatter points the finger at a company called BroadOn, a company that worked with Nintendo repeatedly over the years and did much of the technical design work to make the Wii a reality.
Emulation fans and developers will probably be overjoyed about this leak. It should be possible to improve game emulation significantly with access to the full source code for the Wii’s operating system and SDK. The leak even contains block diagrams and Verilog files for every part of the Wii. Verilog is a text format for describing electronic circuits and systems — someone with the right know-how could basically recreate every component of the Wii from this data. Of course, Nintendo’s lawyers will probably be racking up billable hours to ensure that it doesn’t happen.
Also contained in the 3 gigabytes of leaked data are several documents and files from the Nintendo 64, which dominated gaming in the late 90s. There are functional demos for the N64 that show off what, at the time, were groundbreaking 3D rendering techniques (see above). This is a fascinating glimpse of this pivotal time in gaming history, and there may be a lot more to come. There are even a few documents relating to the development of the 2001 cult-favorite Gamecube console.
Some sources on 4chan claim this cache of data is just a taste of what’s out there — there may be as much as 2TB of stolen Nintendo data in the hands of hackers. If true, it’s only a matter of time before it’s laid bare on the internet.
Two days ago, we covered news from AMD that the company had suffered an IP breach. We now know more about what was taken from the company and how serious the theft is — or more appropriately, isn’t.
At first glance, the news looks bad. The data in question is supposedly for Big Navi and Arden, the codename for the Xbox Series X GPU. Given how important both of these products are to AMD’s future, theft of their underlying core technology would be quite damaging.
WCCFTech has published a story — corroborated by certain sources ExtremeTech has spoken to — arguing that this IP theft is, while serious by its very nature, didn’t actually get the thief all that much. What was reportedly stolen were some Verilog files with information on how to implement a specific GPU function. If you don’t know what Verilog is, it’s a Hardware Description Language (HDL). You could say that a GPU or CPU is “written” in Verilog, and that’s where all the statements about AMD having had a “source code” theft are coming from. It’s not even clear the Verilog files could be useful to a third party; they’re reportedly built on a proprietary schematic that’s only compatible with AMD’s internal design language in the first place.
The important takeaway is this: There’s no way to build a product based on what was stolen and the data cannot be used to reverse engineer product performance. It might be possible to derive some high-level specification data from the full file list, but since most or all of this information is public, there’s not a lot of reason to do so. There are no known security implications from the theft at this time, though there is a slim chance that there might be an exploitable bug in the functions that were stolen. This is more-or-less a given: While we haven’t talked about security audits lately, auditing software (and Verilog is software) is an intensely time-consuming process.
We are watching the story as it develops, and obviously AMD has a very good reason to downplay the significance of what happened, but thus far everything points in the same direction: The idiot trying to extort $ 100M out of AMD doesn’t realize that he’s sitting on something worth much less money. Given how many people are currently sitting at home twiddling their thumbs, law enforcement would probably be glad to have something to do.
Even if it were possible for someone to buy this IP and build something off it, it wouldn’t be a smart move. You can bet AMD would be keeping a sharp eye on the horizon for any company shipping a new consumer part with conspicuously crimson capabilities. While it might be fair to say the hacker took “some” source code for these GPU families, there’s no evidence they got away with “the” source code in the manner required to reverse engineer confidential capabilities or improve a competitor product.
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe started making history the very minute it launched, taking the crown as the fastest moving launch in history. It went on to pass closer to the sun than any previous spacecraft, and now NASA has released the results of scans made during the probe’s first two solar flybys. The research, published in several groundbreaking studies, offers tantalizing details on the origin of the solar wind.
Parker has now made two passes through the corona in November 2018 and April 2019, sending data back to Earth after each one. NASA launched the Parker spacecraft in August 2018, hoping to gather more data on the sun’s corona than we can collect from Earth or with probes that sit safely outside the blazing-hot corona. The corona is a layer of plasma around the sun, and it’s 300 times hotter than the surface of the star at around one million Kelvin. Parker was designed with an advanced heat shield consisting of 4.5-inch carbon composite foam between two carbon fiber sheets. That protection allows Parker to make brief trips through the corona on its highly eccentric orbit.
One of the challenges with studying the solar wind from a distance is that it “smooths out” by the time it reaches Earth and other space probes. Using FIELDS magnetic field scanner and the Solar Wind Electron Alphas and Protons (SWEAP) instrument on Parker, scientists have identified events called “switchbacks” when the magnetic field lines invert. This causes charged particles to bunch up into blobs of plasma as they speed away from the sun. It’ll take more study to know what causes this phenomenon, though.
Perhaps the most important discovery contained within the FIELDS instrument data is the suggestion that the solar wind originates in so-called “cool holes” on the surface. Of course, “cool” is a relative term here. These regions of the sun where magnetic field lines appear to flip are cooler than the surrounding material at roughly 1.1 million degrees Celsius (2 million Fahrenheit). That allows charged particles and magnetic fields to escape into the wider solar system.
NASA’s WISPR (Wide-Field Imager for Parker Solar Probe) helped confirm the theorized “dust-free zone” around our sun. The energy output of the star actually vaporizes dust that passes within a few million miles. WISPR also revealed complex structural elements in the corona that aren’t visible from Earth. Likewise, the Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun (ISʘIS) instrument provided data on small, irregular particle emissions that blend into the solar wind by the time it reaches Earth.
Parker still has about five years left in its primary mission, and NASA hopes to learn a great deal more about the sun by then. Understanding that nuclear furnace could be invaluable as we explore the solar system. The sun makes life on Earth possible, but the solar wind can pose a danger to spacecraft as well as electronic systems on Earth.