This weekend, the official PUBG Mobile Esports YouTube channel was hacked. During the PMCO Weekend 2 Day 1 stream — the biggest PUBG Mobile tournament of the year — the stream was hijacked mid-match, cutting off the broadcast. The hackers quickly rebranded the account as SpaceX 2021, scrubbing the channel of its 700+ video library and replacing it with crypto-aligned content.
The PUBG Mobile Esports hack lasted only a few minutes, but it was evidently enough for the hijackers to do what they wanted with the channel. While mobile gaming site GamingOnPhone reported that the hackers streamed “Elon Musk’s SpaceX event for a few minutes” on the stolen account, screenshots debunk this claim. The video stream, which did in fact only last a few minutes, wasn’t of SpaceX, but of a short video likely advertising a prominent cryptocurrency scam.
The video title suggests it was streaming the Inspiration4 launch, but the all-civilian mission launched on September 15 and ended on September 18 with the safe landing of the shuttle. And if that wasn’t a dead giveaway of the illegitimacy of the takeover, the thumbnail image declared it to be a “GIVEAWAY BIG EVENT” laden with Bitcoin and Dogecoin logos and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s smirking face certainly had no correlation with the event that was ripped from the eyes of onlookers.
With the recent boom of cryptocurrency, similar scams have popped up all over the internet. Typically requesting that users send cryptocurrencies to a wallet address with the promise of a multitude more being sent back. Hackers have taken over official accounts from the likes of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, former President Barack Obama, and even Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, impersonating them to scam their millions of followers. Though we can’t watch the short video streamed from the hacked PUBG Mobile Esports YouTube channel, it’s highly likely the idea was the same.
The hack comes as players get even antsier about PUBG Mobile‘s rampant cheating issues. The popular battle royale title has, like any other, always struggled with hackers using cheating software to get an upper hand, often quickly kicking legitimate players from the top of the leaderboards and climbing the ranks without being detected. And while the on-brand Ban Pan initiative has booted millions of players from the game over the years, Tencent’s anti-cheat policing has struggled to really improve the situation.
Hacking a YouTube channel to solicit cryptocurrencies isn’t the same as using a map hack to win a match, but the irony hasn’t been lost on the playerbase. And it’s not the first time crypto hackers have crossed over with PUBG Mobile. Last year, popular content creator CarryMinati had his YouTube channel hacked early in the morning, with videos like “Tesla Cybertrack Earnings Call” and “Ethereum Earnings Call” popping up in place of his typical stuff. On other areas of his channel, Bitcoin donation links were posted, which he himself took to Instagram to urge fans not to click as he confirmed the breach.
It just goes to show that even channels with a massive following and multiple organizers are never safe from cyber attacks. The hack came at a time when the channel was streaming its biggest event of the year, which guaranteed eyes on the eventual crypto scam. PUBG Mobile officials haven’t spoken of the issues that arose on Saturday, but the channel was quickly reclaimed and returned to normal. When the crypto stream went up, the viewership dropped to the low triple digits, which suggests most weren’t ready to fall for the blatant attempt. That or they just really weren’t into rockets.
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