Reddit hackers demand $4.5 million and API changes in threat to leak 80GB of data


In February, Reddit made a shocking revelation about falling victim to a targeted phishing scheme. This incident resulted in the exposure of internal documents, code, dashboards, and contracts, as well as some employees’ and advertisers’ information. Fortunately, the compromised data has not yet been made public, but the situation may change soon. Recently, a ransomware gang known as BlackCat, also identified as ALPHV, claimed responsibility for the hack and announced possession of 80GB of compressed data. In a post titled “The Reddit Files,” BlackCat made a bold demand, stating they would delete the information if Reddit agrees to pay them $4.5 million and reverses API price increases.

BlackCat executed the data breach by employing a scheme that involved tricking employees into visiting a website resembling Reddit’s intranet gateway through “plausible sounding prompts.” One individual fell for the deception, enabling the hackers to acquire their login credentials and second-factor tokens. However, the person in question promptly reported the mistake, and there is no indication that Reddit users’ personal information has been compromised.

Now, several months later, the hackers have publicly emerged amidst widespread protests across the site against the API price hikes that BlackCat is demanding be undone. The increased costs have forced popular third-party apps like Narwhal and Apollo to shut down. Christian Selig, the creator of Apollo, revealed that sustaining his business would require an annual expenditure of $20 million. Developers are concerned that the absence of third-party apps will lead to increased censorship and hinder ad revenue growth.

During a significant protest, approximately 8,000 subreddits simultaneously went dark. However, the outcome remains mixed as Reddit remains steadfast in its plans. Reddit CEO Steve Hoffman expressed his perspective on the matter in an interview with The Verge, stating, “These people who are mad, they’re mad because they used to get something for free, and now it’s going to be not free.” Hoffman has also suggested the implementation of measures to facilitate the removal of moderators who make “unpopular” decisions. While Reddit shows no indication of reversing its decision, some advertisers have paused their activities on the site due to ongoing blackouts.

The impact of this latest development on API prices remains uncertain, as Reddit has yet to comment on whether it will meet the demands set by BlackCat. The ransomware gang claims that Reddit ignored their previous contact attempts in April and June, and they have little hope that a public ultimatum will make a difference. In their post, BlackCat confidently stated, “We are very confident that Reddit will not pay any money for their data. We expect to leak the data.”

The situation continues to unfold, and the response from Reddit and the consequences of this hack remain to be seen.