Just recently a group of hackers made off with 1.5TB of data from servers owned by the cable television network HBO. The thieves managed to leak a few unaired episodes of the network’s original shows and a Game of Thrones script from this Sunday’s new episode. According to reports, the hackers want a total of $7.5M in bitcoin for the cache of data or else they will slowly release a hoard of HBO’s unreleased shows.
HBO Looks to Acquire $250,000 Worth of Bitcoin to Pay Off Extortionists
This past week HBO was compromised for over 1.5TB of internal data that hosted unaired shows, documentaries, in-house movies, scripts, high-profile emails and contacts, and broadcast pilots. The hackers who stole the information from HBO say they earn 15 million a year, and want half of their salaries paid for the stolen data. According to reports, the group calls themselves, “Mr. Smith,” and they make a living extorting companies by stealing valuable intellectual property.
HBO and Mr. Smith have been in contact with each other through a series of emails according to an IT employee who works for the cable network. The employee says HBO has been in communications with Mr. Smith since July 23 and have asked the malicious hackers to delay the ransom deadline. In an email to the Hollywood Reporter the company says that it has made an offer to Mr. Smith in order to try and keep the negotiations going, stating;
As a show of good faith on our side, we are willing to commit to making a bug bounty payment of $250,000 to you as soon as we can establish the necessary account and acquire bitcoin.
The ‘Bug Bounty’ Payment May be a Delay Tactic
A source close to the matter says this doesn’t mean HBO will be willing to pay the entire ransom and called the move a “delay tactic.” The company also carefully chose to use the phrase “bug bounty” in their communications instead of saying “ransom.” At the moment, the source explains that HBO hasn’t been in contact with hackers and the deal may have fallen through.
In the video-message sent to Richard Plepler the cable company’s CEO, the hackers sent a message with white text and a black background demanding the company pay their salary in bitcoin soon. Reports reveal the data stolen also contains Plepler’s email list with over 40,000 contacts which include the phone numbers, emails, and living addresses of the entire Game of Thrones cast.
What do you think about HBO dealing with the hacker extortionists? Do you think they will end up paying $250,000 in bitcoin to Mr. Smith? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Pixabay, HBO, Variety, and the Game of Thrones.
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