Hacked, Overland Park VR game company took a risky step. It tried to hire the hacker

OrbusVR early access game trailer

OrbusVR is a fantasy Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. It's a massive experience designed from the ground up for room-scale virtual reality.
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OrbusVR is a fantasy Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. It's a massive experience designed from the ground up for room-scale virtual reality.

Hacked? Maybe you could hire the hacker to help fix the flaw.

It’s a common practice in the digital world. But it did not work out well for an Overland Park-based company trying to protect its “room-scale” virtual reality game OrbusVR.

Orbus Online LLC turned to federal court after its overture to a hacker turned sour, filing a lawsuit that claims copyright infringement.

The lawsuit acknowledges a common issue in hacking cases: The company doesn’t know who the hacker is. The defendant is listed as John Doe, who likely lives in the Atlanta area and goes by "Simian Dong."

“On information and belief, ‘Simian Dong’ is a false name the defendant is using to mask his true identity,” said the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.

Included are images of online posts by “dajuda” at a website that hackers frequent called UnknownCheats. Orbus Online says dajuda was the game identity of Simian Dong.

Through an attorney, the company declined to talk about the case.

At UnknownCheats, dajuda responded to a challenge to hack into OrbusVR with a gamer-phrased version of been there, done that.

Dajuda's claim came on Jan. 23, the day Orbus Online noticed that one players had developed something akin to superpowers. These gave dajuda “advantages in combat mechanics” over other players, the suit said.

A YouTube channel by Simian Dong shows an OrbusVR video of his hacked power: “World’s first VR aimbot.” An aimbot is a cheat that allows one player to fire weapons at others without having to aim.

Upon discovering the superpower, Orbus owner Riley Dutton emailed dajuda and temporarily banned his game account for copying and modifying software on the client’s side of the game, the lawsuit said.

Dutton then changed his tune.

​"Orbus Online offered to pay defendant to assist the company in identifying and remedying security issues in the Orbus VR​ client software,” the lawsuit said.

It was a risky move.

In the world of cybersecurity, hackers are said to be a white hat or black hat depending on their motives for hacking. In some cases they are called gray hats for their ambiguity.

“Every one has a different psychology,” said Adam Levin, founder of CyberScout and a consumer advocate on cybersecurity, identity theft and other issues.

Levine said some well-known hackers, such as Chris Vickery, find personal information in databases with lax security and push the holder of that information to protect it. Others find unprotected data and steal it.

Some want a hefty reward for pointing out problems. Companies also set up "bug bounties," offering to pay anyone who can find a weakness to turn it in and help make the site more secure.

Then there are "because-I-can hackers" that Levine said have different motives. Bragging rights or a charge of adrenaline mean more to them than money, he said.

OrbusVR’s hacker declined the offer to come in from the cold. Instead, the war turned hot.

The lawsuit said dajuda tried to “extort unfettered access” to Orbus Online’s game in exchange for a promise not to reveal the path into the software he’d created.

Orbus Online quickly fixed its protections to keep dajuda out. But the lawsuit said its repair was short lived.

On Jan. 25, dajuda “again broke the encryption protecting” the company’s software. He “posted extensive instructions” online for others to repeat his hack, the lawsuit said, along with a copy of the company’s “client source code,” which he publicly distributed on another website.

Orbus Online seeks a court order prohibiting dajuda and others working with him from copying the game code, requiring them to destroy copies that exist and removing them from the internet. The company also seeks unspecified damages.

The game is relatively new, in the "Early Access stage of development," according to its website.

Players have posted favorable comments on social media and seem not to have noticed all this going on behind the scenes.

One player said on Twitter recently that OrbusVR is “probably the best VR experience I’ve had so far and I’ve only scratched the surface.”

Sedated Squirrel, another player, declared Monday that OrbusVR was “truly amazing” and that he’d go though withdrawal until he could buy the game.

Orbus Online is holding a free weekend for OrbusVR play on Steam.