In February, Reddit revealed it had been the victim of a targeted phishing scheme that exposed internal docs, dashboards, code and contracts, along with some advertisers' and current and former employees' information. None of the data appears to have found its way to the public, but that could soon change. Ransomware gang BlackCat, also known as ALPHV, has just taken responsibility for the hack and claims to have 80GB of compressed data. In a post called "The Reddit Files," BlackCat announced it would delete the information if Reddit gives it $4.5 million and reverses API price increases.
BlackCat captured the information through a scheme that saw employees receive "plausible sounding prompts" to visit a website designed just like Reddit's intranet gateway. One individual fell for the trick, allowing hackers to steal their login details and second-factor tokens. The person then self-reported their mistake, and it's believed the security breach didn't compromise Reddit users' personal information.
Now, months later, the hackers have publicly revealed themselves in the midst of site-wide protests against API price hikes (yes, the same ones BlackCat is so admirably demanding be undone). The increased cost is forcing popular third-party apps like Narwhal and Apollo to shut down, with Apollo creator Christian Selig claiming he would need to spend $20 million per year to stay in business. Developers also fear losing third-party apps will lead to more censoring and less opportunity for growing ad revenue.
A massive protest saw up to 8,000 subreddits go dark at one time, but the results are mixed, with Reddit doubling down on its plans. "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," Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said in an interview with The Verge. He has also suggested making it easier to remove moderators who aren't making "popular" decisions. Though Reddit shows no signs of reversing its decision, some advertisers have paused on the site while blackouts continue.
It's uncertain how, if at all, this new development will impact API prices, with Reddit yet to comment on whether it will meet the demands. BlackCat claims Reddit ignored its past two contact attempts, in April and June, and doesn't have much hope a public ultimatum will make a difference. "We are very confident that Reddit will not pay any money for their data," BlackCat stated in its post. "We expect to leak the data."