The following is the opinion of one editor, and does not represent the opinions of XBLAFans as a whole.
“Gamertag was last signed in on another console.” That’s what my 360 said as I signed in just before Christmas. I immediately checked the family bank account. Sure enough, the hacker had nearly drained our money, meaning that for the next five or six days we’d be living off what was in the fridge. Now the fridge wasn’t empty, but we always do our shopping throughout the week, so things that we needed to make our normal meals we couldn’t get. The family survived with no major issues, but the annoyance and utter frustration others had felt suddenly became very real. They weren’t just stealing my Microsoft Points, it could affect the way we ran our family.
Every big entity gets hacked, though. I get that. I’ve seen Twitter and Facebook accounts hacked, bank accounts, all sorts of things in my time as an IT guy. Even though I was annoyed with Microsoft, they weren’t any less secure than anyone else, it’s just that the frequency of attacks increased since the release of FIFA 12. How much? Well let’s put it into perspective: we now have roughly 20 active members on our staff. Of those 20, four have been victims of the FIFA hack. That’s a 1-in-5 ratio. That’s what’s called rampancy, folks.
How does it work?
Well, I can’t give you all the details on how they get your information–I don’t think anyone knows all the methods (I’m sure they use several tactics). But while trying to get to your account they post on offer up on some less-than-reputable, yet seemingly innocent eBay-like sites. They offer to give the buyer the FIFA 12 Ultimate Teams and/or in-game coins for the purchase price. Once bought the seller uses your account to jump into FIFA with the buyer. The buyer then simply uses the in-game trading system to “gift” the items to the buyer. As a nefarious scheme it’s rather ingenious. The buyer has no risk from buying a hacked account since they stay logged into their own. The seller knows this will drive up sales since there’s minimal risk to the customer. Couple that with the fact that FIFA 12 is one of the top selling Xbox LIVE games and they’ve got a virtual gold mine.
Learning from Cortana
In the original Halo Cortana learns that the Forerunners used the Halo rings as their last resort, ending their own existence in hopes of eliminating the Flood. “Halo doesn’t kill Flood. It kills their food!” That’s what she told Master Chief. Similarly these parasitic hackers will continue to prey on the innocent until their food is cut off. Thankfully that doesn’t involve ending life as we know it. The solution is much simpler than that, yet at the same time it’ll be painful to many of the faithful FIFA 12 players who are honest. The game needs to be patched.
Yep, if we want to starve hackers of this feast they’re having FIFA has to be patched to disallow player and team trading. Once that’s done hackers will have to resort to trying to sell “Silver accounts” pre-loaded with points to people–something that most people are smart enough to stay away from. Since title updates are required to play on Xbox LIVE, hackers won’t be able to trade. They can’t use the older version and still be signed into LIVE, thus they have no “food” to feed from. For those still looking for the achievement it could pop when entering the main menu after the update.
But it ain’t gonna happen…
The cold, hard fact is that EA is making far too much money from FIFA to upset their vast amount of players. They would upset the honest, and the dishonest would make even more of a stink. Since EA can’t really discern who is honest and who isn’t they’d have to just listen to the populace in general. And so we’re left to the mercy of hackers until FIFA 13 gets released. Hopefully EA will be smart enough to disable trading for 13, or at least to revamp the system. Either way, I hope that everyone in the industry sees just how easily a seemingly innocent feature can be used to give criminals an easy way to make money. Personally I’d gladly do without in-game trading all together if it means it makes hackers’ lives harder.