A team of experienced Internet activists are claiming they’ve hacked the servers of Neopets.com, and will soon be releasing confidential records of every person registered to the site.
“Neopets’ child-centric agenda and the features they keep behind a paywall are the perfect sickening example of modern capitalism,” said a video uploaded to YouTube last week, which announced the biggest data breach in Neopets’ history. “We will tolerate this system of oppression no longer.”
The virtual pet website, which has seen its popularity ebb and flow over the years, is known primarily as a games site for children and teenagers, but the hackers claim to have information that will compromise the identities of countless adult-aged users — including multiple celebrities.
On Monday, Neopets’ CEO Brent Matthews confirmed that the hack was real, though only after a few “sample” emails had already been made public.
“As the investigation is ongoing, we are unable to disclose certain details but we are allowed to confirm there was a crack in our security systems,” said Matthews. “Rest assured our team is working around the clock to learn what happened so we can prevent it from ever happening again.”
Ben Affleck, Anne Hathaway, and Orlando Bloom are just a few of the celebrities reportedly being linked to Neopets, though representatives from all three have dismissed the connection; a representative from Affleck called the allegation “total nonsense,” while Hathaway responded by posting an open letter online, saying she’s an adult woman who has “no time for silly, challenging-but-fun children’s games like Neopets’ Ice Cream Machine or Destruct-O-Match III.”
The leak also has many experts speculating on how hacktivists justify actions like these — and what kind of danger that poses to the general public.
“The hackers are playing judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to these leaks,” Cheryl Phillips, a professor of psychology at Simon Fraser, told The Peak. “People’s lives are going to be ruined if they’re somehow connected to an active Neopets account, and by that I mean their social lives. But still. The stakes are very high. Who knows when the next major data breach will come from?”
Last month extramarital cheating website Ashley Madison also suffered a data breach, when over 25 gigabytes of sensitive information was made public by vindictive hackers. Authorities are saying the two incidents seem to be unconnected, as one group seemed intent on exposing and shaming adults for engaging in questionable behaviour, while the other group focused more on Ashley Madison’s dubious ethics.