If you attended the E3 this year, which took place in Los Angeles, as either a journalist, YouTuber or analyst, there is the possibility that some of your personal data has now been made public and available for anyone to grab.
Every year, the Entertainment Software Association distributes hundreds of press badges to journalists. To obtain one of these badges, the organization must receive the following information from them: name, surname, address, telephone number and other information. It is, of course, expected that this information will be kept under lock and key.
However, on Saturday, the Entertainment Software Association has sent out alert emails to the journalists who have registered their credentials for the event and told them that, in spite of the fact that they have never had an issue for the past 20 years as far as the credentials of the attendees went, this was not the case anymore.
A list with all that information was accessible to anyone who clicked a button on the ESA website and this flaw was noticed by YouTube creator Sophia Narwitz, who, of course, notified E3 immediately. She got on the phone with them, sent an email and also reached out to a few journalists herself, to make them aware of the situation.
ESA removed the link but the cached versions of the website still feature a link titled “Registered Media List” which could still be accessed via this cached page by anyone who knew the link.
Narwitz went on to publish a YouTube video concerning the issue, as she initially believed the file was no longer accessible, after ESA had mentioned they removed it. However, other social media users notified her that wasn’t the case. It was only much later on that ESA completely deleted the file from the website.
Narwitz’s video had already made its existence known to the general public, which meant that the file had been accessed and shared online for a while longer. However, Narwitz insists that she made sure the file was not available before making the video, which she says means the file had been cached elsewhere.
Narwitz told Kotaku that she considered removing the video after she got the news the file was still available online but in the end decided not to: “The reason I ultimately didn’t is because of my belief this file was about to leak in the coming week (it really was only a matter of time until it found its way to whatever websites would play host to it), and so being my video was warning people, I ultimately decided it was best to leave it up.”
ESA has so far not clarified why the file was not password protected in the first place, for how long it has been available to the public or how many times it had been downloaded.