Blizzard Facing Class Action Suit Over Authenticators

Another day, another class action suit against a big video game company. This time, the company is Blizzard and the complaint concerns the Authenticators, which players are strongly encouraged to purchase and attach to their Battle.net accounts in order to provide protection against cyber threats.

However, we’ve seen several breaches of Blizzard and Blizzard-produced games in the past year (including a particularly nasty one this past August), and the class action suit is, in part, a complaint that the company isn’t doing enough to protect its players. The plaintiffs claim that the Authenticators haven’t done enough to further player security and that they are just another money-grabbing ploy by Blizzard. The suit seeks damages and the removal of the requirement to create a Battle.net account in order to play non-MMO Blizzard games.

What does Blizzard think of all this? The company plans to fight the suit, saying, “This suit is without merit and filled with patently false information, and we will vigorously defend ourselves through the appropriate legal channels.” The company continues,

“We want to reiterate that we take the security of our players’ data very seriously, and we’re fully committed to defending our network infrastructure. We also recognize that the cyber-threat landscape is always evolving, and we’re constantly working to track the latest developments and make improvements to our defenses.”

Blizzard responded to Game Informer with a hefty official statement, which you can view below in full:

Show Statement »

“This suit is without merit and filled with patently false information, and we will vigorously defend ourselves through the appropriate legal channels.

We want to reiterate that we take the security of our players’ data very seriously, and we’re fully committed to defending our network infrastructure. We also recognize that the cyber-threat landscape is always evolving, and we’re constantly working to track the latest developments and make improvements to our defenses.

The suit’s claim that we didn’t properly notify players regarding the August 2012 security breach is not true. Not only did Blizzard act quickly to provide information to the public about the situation, we explained the actions we were taking and let players know how the incident affected them, including the fact that no names, credit card numbers, or other sensitive financial information was disclosed. You can read our letter to players and a comprehensive FAQ related to the situation on our website.

The suit also claims that the Battle.net Authenticator is required in order to maintain a minimal level of security on the player’s Battle.net account information that’s stored on Blizzard’s network systems. This claim is also completely untrue and apparently based on a misunderstanding of the Authenticator’s purpose. The Battle.net Authenticator is an optional tool that players can use to further protect their Battle.net accounts in the event that their login credentials are compromised outside of Blizzard’s network infrastructure. Available as a physical device or as a free app for iOS or Android devices, it offers players an added level of security against account-theft attempts that stem from sources such as phishing attacks, viruses packaged with seemingly harmless file downloads, and websites embedded with malicious code.

When a player attaches an Authenticator to his or her account, it means that logging in to Battle.net will require the use of a random code generated by the Authenticator in addition to the player’s login credentials. This helps our systems identify when it’s actually the player who is logging in and not someone who might have stolen the player’s credentials by means of one of the external theft measures mentioned above, or as a result of the player using the same account name and password on another website or service that was compromised. Considering that players are ultimately responsible for securing their own computers, and that the extra step required by the Authenticator is an added inconvenience during the log in process, we ultimately leave it up to the players to decide whether they want to add an Authenticator to their account. However, we always strongly encourage it, and we try to make it as easy as possible to do.

Many players have voiced strong approval for our security-related efforts. Blizzard deeply appreciates the outpouring of support it has received from its players related to the frivolous claims in this particular suit.”