More than 69 million Neopets accounts may be compromised after a major data breach. A Neopets representative wrote on Discord yesterday that the company is aware of the breach and “actively working on it.” Later, on Wednesday evening, the official Neopets Twitter account posted about the data breach and said it would be working with law enforcement and launching an investigation with “a leading forensics form.”
BleepingComputer reports that a hacker named TarTarX put the Neopets user data for sale on Tuesday for 4 Bitcoins, about $90,000. The data appears to include usernames, emails, and passwords — as well as personal information like date of birth, country, zip code, and gender.
A long history of Neopets data breaches — The virtual pet website was first launched in late 1999 by a pair of British friends who’d built it while students at university. In 2005, Neopets was purchased by Viacom, which owns Nickelodeon. In 2014, when it changed hands to JumpStart Games, the waning site experienced security lapses — and in 2016, a data breach exposed millions of users’ data. JumpStart was sold to Chinese company NetDragon in 2017, and in 2020, reports came out that hackers had written administrator credentials into the site’s code, exposing the entire codebase.
A bygone era — Though a dedicated userbase remains to this day, the golden age of Neopets has been gone for nearly two decades. But when it was good, it was good. The cult-like site taught kids HTML, and in 2003 — the throes of a laddish internet — CNN called Neopets “an online world that even girls love.” It’s an escapist fantasy land (Neopia) with its own calendar and time zone, its Neopoints stock market called the NEODAQ, and even its own newspaper called The Neopian Times. Neopets made money with ads, but it also captured an offline market share by unleashing scads of merchandise: stuffed animals, stickers, toys, and more.
How the mighty have fallen — But these days, the beloved site is selling Neopets NFTs and mishandling data. Jellyneo.net, a Neopet fan site that continues to this day, expressed previously that Neopets company isn’t in tune with its community.