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  • GTA 6 Hacker Arion Kurtaj: What’s the Story?


    Whenever there’s an anticipated game, we always get our hands on some leaks. GTA 6’s trailer may have dropped in December of 2023, but clips of pre-alpha footage were already leaked back in September 2022, giving us more details about the game than the trailer that just dropped.

    How did this happen? It’s because of an 18-year-old British hacker: Arion Kurtaj. This article doesn’t support what Kurtaj did, it only sheds light on the story of the Oxford hacker and how he damaged Rockstar’s development of the game.

    The Beginning

    In September 2022, without any warnings or speculations, 90 video clips and 200 GB of internal data from Rockstar Games were released online. This includes early footage of the unannounced game at the time: GTA 6.

    This breach was orchestrated by 18-year-old Arion Kurtaj, a member of the Lapsus$ hacking group. The impact of that cyberattack was huge, raising questions about how an 18-year-old managed to hack a multimillion-dollar studio with supposedly top-notch security.

    The funny bit is that Arion had recently hacked Nvidia and BT/EE telecom companies and was under police protection in a hotel. Yet, he still managed to bypass Rockstar’s security, reportedly using an Amazon Fire Stick, a keyboard, a smartphone, and a mouse.

    He didn’t have access to a computer because his laptop was confiscated after his last cyber attack. Once he gained access to the files he needed, he infiltrated the company’s messaging system and posted a message that said: “If Rockstar doesn’t contact me on Telegram within 24 hours, I will release the source code.”

    Upon receiving no response from the company, he released the data on a forum using the alias TeaPotUberHacker.

    Arion Kurtaj’s Motive

    Airon Kurtak is autistic, so it’s unclear why he was involved in the Lapsus$ group nor why he targeted tech giants like Uber, Nvidia, and, lately, Rockstar Games.

    Even if he did admit why he hacked Rockstar’s security, little to no information about his motives was given to the public. Speculation ranges from financial gain to seeking notoriety. With how many people anticipated the game at the time, he certainly did gain notoriety.

    The Breach and its Impact

    Arion’s infiltration of Rockstar’s systems released 90 unfinished video clips from GTA 6. This spoiled major plot points, character animations, and gameplay elements.

    This wreaked havoc on Rockstar’s development timelines and marketing strategies. We can also assume that a lot of investor confidence was shaken that day.

    This cyberattack, along with the earlier attack on Cyberpunk 2077 sparked heated discussions about the vulnerability of game developers to cyberattacks and the ethical implications of sharing unreleased content.

    Legal Repercussions

    In December 2023, Kurtaj received an indefinite hospital detention order. The judge decided that he posed a big threat to the public since he didn’t give up his desire to start more cyberattacks.

    He is to be kept in a secure medical facility because of the potential risk he poses. He had a 17-year-old accomplice (whose name is redacted because of their minor status) who received a shorter sentence due to their lesser involvement.

    In the same month, the official trailer of the game was released, and the case was considered closed. However, that massive leak continues to serve as a reminder of cybersecurity fragility. After all, a teenager managed to cost Nvidia, Rockstar, and Uber nearly $10m.

    Some people may argue that cyberattacks are victimless crimes. Indeed, nobody was physically hurt in that attack, but the financial impact still puts it under the crime category.

    Final Words

    Fans have wanted any piece of Grant Theft Auto 6 for years, but bold leaks like this act like spoilers rather than teasers. A lot of information about GTA’s mechanics, weapons, character animations, and inventory systems is available because of those leaks, not the trailer itself. Yet, the unauthorized release of video game clips remains a crime punishable by law, a truth that Arion learned the hard way.

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