In a recent court ruling, an 18-year-old from Oxford was identified as a member of an international cyber-crime collective responsible for a series of hacks targeting major tech corporations, including Rockstar Games. According to a report by the BBC, Arion Kurtaj, a prominent figure within the Lapsus$ group, was implicated in breaches that also affected Uber and Nvidia.
Kurtaj’s involvement went so far as to include leaking excerpts of Grand Theft Auto 6 while out on bail at a Travelodge hotel using an Amazon Fire Stick he found. Psychiatrists deemed Kurtaj unfit to stand trial, resulting in his absence from the court proceedings as a witness. The court’s focus was on determining his culpability rather than assessing criminal intent.
Another individual, a 17-year-old also on the autism spectrum, faced conviction for participating in Lapsus$ operations. However, due to legal restrictions related to their age, their identity remains undisclosed. Referred to as “digital bandits,” the UK-based, purportedly Brazilian gang was primarily composed of teenagers who blended hacking tactics to infiltrate multinational companies such as Microsoft and Revolut. Throughout their hacking spree, the gang taunted their victims on Telegram in both English and Portuguese.
Kurtaj not only blackmailed BT Group, the UK’s largest broadband service provider, but also demanded a $4 million ransom from UK mobile service provider EE. In a bold move, he even hacked the City of London Police’s cloud server, with the last attack occurring just days after Kurtaj’s arrest for the Take-Two breach.
While all the affected businesses experienced considerable repercussions, Take-Two Interactive bore the brunt of severe consequences. Kurtaj’s leak of GTA 6’s release date target and in-game map significantly impacted the company’s stock prices. Some players even used the leaked information to recreate parts of the game’s map. The incident prompted an FBI investigation.
The actions of this group prompted a review by US cyber authorities, exposing defense vulnerabilities, particularly concerning young hackers. The extent of Lapsus$’ gains remain unclear, as the affected companies have not disclosed any payments made to the group. The teenagers’ sentences will be determined at a later date. While Kurtaj is currently in custody, the 17-year-old remains out on bail. Additionally, Brazilian authorities have apprehended an individual suspected of being involved with Lapsus$ activities.
Apart from the information allegedly leaked by Kurtaj and other Lapsus$ members, very little else is currently known about the upcoming GTA title. Nonetheless, statements from Take-Two suggest that a release date may be on the horizon, although fans are unlikely to see the game before 2024 at the earliest.
In related news, the individual who leaked the first 45 minutes of Starfield was recently arrested on felony charges.