Pokémon site almost destroyed by hackers who wanted rare cards


Zacian as shown for the Pokemon Sword & Shield TCG

illustration: The Pokemon Company

In a now miserably familiar refrain, professional hackers targeted a popular website in an attempt to blackmail its owners. This time it is PokeBeach, an 18-year-old site dedicated to the Pokémon TCG that has lost much of the site’s history to the botched attempts of the hackers.

“PokeBeach was hacked on Monday” begins an explanatory post from the creator of the website, Jon Sahagian, Pseudonym known as Water Pokémon Master. “All files have been deleted. We have assessed the situation over the past 72 hours. I barely slept.”

The hugely popular Pokémon TCG site (with almost 4 million visitors in May of this year) was founded by Sahagian at the age of 14. On Monday, hackers deleted nearly two decades of files from the site’s servers and even ran scripts to remove backups. Their intent was to keep a copy for themselves and then use it to blackmail Sahagian into paying for the restoration.

Due to the efforts of the site’s hosts, the hackers were prevented from completing the site download, but not before the attackers had already deleted backup versions. When their attack was interrupted, Sahagian reports that they “issued an order to clean it up.”

While the text of the archive of news and forum posts on the site was not affected, the media of the “last years” was deleted. As anyone who runs a website will tell you, the loss of images is terrible and makes everything look broken.

A wayback snapshot of the site before the hack

A wayback snapshot of the site before the hack
picture: PokeBeach

Fortunately, the hackers’ worst efforts failed. An attempt to redirect the site’s backers to deposit funds into the group’s own PayPal account failed, and PayPal has confirmed that no transactions have taken place. Also, her rather pathetic attempt to suggest that Sahagian send her some rare Pokémon cards in return for “some of my files” was reasonably ignored.

Sahagian states that there was no access to their databases and that “no messages, forum posts or user accounts were affected”. Presumably this means that the attackers did not have access to root and instead exploited the site’s CMS installation.

We contacted Jon Sahagian via Twitter DMs to see if there was any news about the recovery efforts. “We were able to recover tens of thousands of files,” he told us, “but recovery software cannot reconstruct their file names or folder structure. It is simply not possible to reset all of these files. “

This is devastating for anyone who has put so much effort into a lifelong project. “I started PokeBeach when I was 14 and never stopped,” adds Sahagian. “I’ve been texting the Pokémon TCG every day for 18 years, from high school to college to my filmmaking career. I don’t know many people who stick to a project in so many phases of their lives. So it’s immensely frustrating that those who don’t care about someone’s passion destroy it so quickly and without much thought. “

People who want to support PokeBeach should be able to access their PayPal sponsored item program via this link if it is fixed later today.


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