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Millions of MapleStory accounts hacked

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Hackers have struck again in the video game world -- and the latest incursion is a big one.

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MapleStory (Nexon)

Tokyo-based game publisher Nexon says a security breach discovered last week has put personal information from millions of accounts at risk.

This time, hackers burrowed into the South Korean database for the publisher's popular game MapleStory, stealing user IDs, real names, passwords and residential registration numbers for roughly 13.5 million players. The company said the data was encrypted, but still suggests users change their password.

Unlike some other publishers, however, Nexon separates servers for each country in which it operates, meaning information for players outside of South Korea remained secure. MapleStory has over 8 million active subscribers in North America.

It has been a busy year for game-focused hackers. Just last month, intruders hacked the database of leading PC digital distribution service Steam, taking usernames, passwords, transcripts of game purchases, email and billing addresses, and encrypted credit card info.

Valve Software, which owns and runs Steam, forced forum users to change their passwords and encouraged users of the digital distribution service to do the same.

"We don't have evidence of credit card misuse at this time," said Gabe Newell, co-founder and managing director of Valve. "Nonetheless you should watch your credit card activity and statements closely. I am truly sorry this happened, and I apologize for the inconvenience."

The Nexon and Valve hacks followed a series of attacks on gaming companies earlier in the year. The high profile attack on Sony in April was the kickoff, with over 100 million user accounts compromised. The attention that intrusion generated spurred a series of copycat hacks on other game publishers.

Bethesda Softworks, Epic Games, Eidos and Codemasters were all subsequently hit in a series of unrelated attacks that proved more annoying than truly threatening.

"What you're seeing is that hackers are responding to the considerable amount of media attention being given to the hacking issue," says Hemu Nigam, founder of SSP Blue, an Internet security consultant business and former VP of internet enforcement at the MPAA. "More hackers want to attack [companies] to see if they make the press. It's a vicious cycle and the only way to stop it is to focus on identifying the vulnerabilities and closing the gaps."

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