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Video game streaming service Twitch suffers major data breach

Around 7 million users stream videos on Twitch every month, the company says.
Image: Attendees walk past a Twitch logo painted on stairs during opening day of E3 in Los Angeles on June 11, 2019.
Attendees walk past a Twitch logo during the opening day of E3 in Los Angeles on June 11, 2019.Mike Blake / Reuters file

Twitch, the popular Amazon-owned video game streaming service, has suffered an enormous data breach, with reams of sensitive company files shared online.

Some of the files, viewed by NBC News, include apparent payment information for tens of at least hundreds of thousands of streamers.

Twitch is massively popular among the legions of video gamers who stream themselves or esports competitions. Around 7 million users stream videos on Twitch every month, the company says, and streamers have the option to monetize their videos, with payment depending on their viewership. Amazon purchased the company for $970 million in 2014.

It’s unclear exactly how the files were obtained or by whom. On Wednesday evening, an anonymous user posted a link to download the files to the web forum 4chan, claiming that the intention was to attack Twitch because of its stranglehold on the video game streaming industry.

“Their community is also a disgusting toxic cesspool, so to foster more disruption and competition in the online video streaming space, we have completely pwned them,” the leaker wrote.

“Jeff Bezos paid $970 million for this, we’re giving it away FOR FREE,” the leaker added.

Twitch users have long complained that the platform doesn’t do enough to protect users from harassment. LGBTQ streamers and streamers of color organized a “Day Off Twitch” boycott last month.

The payout files cover the past three years and identify users by their user identification numbers. The records indicate that the payments vary wildly, with many streamers receiving no proceeds and some receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Twitch declined to answer specific questions but confirmed on Twitter that it had suffered a data breach and was investigating its extent.

“This breach is massive in scope,” said Rachel Tobac, the CEO of SocialProof Security, a cybersecurity firm.