Cybercrime doesn't happen only to everyday folks — it can happen to big companies as well. Take, for example, CD Projekt Red, the Polish studio behind the enormously successful Witcher video-game series. Now that the Witcher story is complete, the company is hard at work on another game, called Cyberpunk 2077.
Some of that game’s pre-production files have fallen into nefarious hands, but if they get released online, you’re better off avoiding them, for reasons both practical and ethical.
The CD Projekt Red staff took to Twitter to explain their situation:
“An unidentified individual or individuals have just informed us that they are in possession of a few internal files belonging to CD Projekt Red,” said a statement appended as an image file to the tweet. “Among them are documents connected to early designs for the upcoming game, Cyberpunk 2077. A demand for ransom has been made, saying that should we not comply, the files will be released to the general public. We will not be giving in to the demands.”
It’s not clear exactly how the files found their way into criminal hands. An internal leak seems more likely than an outright hack, but CD Projekt Red would hardly be the first high-profile company to fall victim to cybercriminals. Either way, CD Projekt Red does not seem eager to indulge the criminals' whims — which seems like a good policy, even though it risks revealing details of its next big title.
Still, if the cybercriminals make good on their threat, there are two major reasons why you’ll want to avoid downloading anything marketed as leaked Cyberpunk 2077 documents. The first, and most obvious, is that if you’re anticipating the company’s next game, you’ve probably enjoyed its previous efforts. CD Projekt Red has put a great deal of time and effort into its latest title, and it will want to put its best foot forward with pre-release materials.
The company has specifically requested that fans avoid spurious leaked materials.
“It would be best for you to avoid any information not coming directly from CD Projekt Red," the studio said in its tweeted statement. "When the time is right, you will hear about Cyberpunk 2077 from us — officially.”
If the studio has earned any goodwill from you in the past, it wouldn’t hurt to honor its request.
However, even if you adopt the attitude of “It’s out there anyway; couldn’t hurt to look,” it’s probably not a great idea to start downloading anything that promises to be leaked Cyberpunk 2077 material. Hot new games (especially in pre-release) on torrent sites are almost always delivery vessels for malware.
Whoever stole the Cyberpunk 2077 materials clearly doesn’t have many scruples to begin with; why shouldn’t this person (or group) take the opportunity to hide some sneaky malware underneath a shiny Cyberpunk 2077 exterior?
The sad truth is that if someone leaks Cyberpunk 2077 materials, they’ll be all over the Internet within a day or so — and if the files are unsafe, someone will probably find a way to extricate them eventually. Still, if the Cyberpunk 2077 files do go public, they’ll come with some dubious strings attached, both for your conscience and potentially for your computer. It’s better to rely on the old games development axiom: “It’ll be ready when it’s ready.”