Hackers Demand Ransom For Stolen HBO Files
Hackers using the name “Mr. Smith” posted a fresh cache on Monday of stolen HBO files online, and demanded that the network pay a ransom of several million dollars to prevent further such releases.
The data dump included what appear to be scripts from five “Game of Thrones” episodes, including one coming episode, and a month’s worth of email from the account of Leslie Cohen, HBO’s vice president for film programming. There were also internal documents, including a report of legal claims against the network and job offer letters to top executives.
HBO, which previously acknowledged the theft of “proprietary information,” said it was continuing to investigate and was working with the police and security experts. The network said on Monday that it still did not believe that its email system as a whole had been compromised.
This is the second data release from the hack. So far, the leaks at HBO have been limited, falling well short of the chaos inflicted on Sony in 2014. In that attack, hackers unearthed thousands of embarrassing emails and released personal information, including salaries and Social Security numbers, of nearly 50,000 current and former Sony employees. In the aftermath of the attack, the Sony Pictures chief, Amy Pascal, was ousted.
Those behind the HBO theft claim to have more data, including scripts, coming episodes of HBO shows and movies, and information damaging to HBO.
“Game of Thrones,” currently in its penultimate season, is the most popular show in HBO’s history and has long been a target of digital piracy.
In a video directed to HBO’s chief executive, Richard Plepler, “Mr. Smith” used white text on a black background to threaten further disclosures if HBO did not pay the ransom. To stop the leaks, the hackers demanded “our 6 month salary in bitcoin,” which they implied is at least $6 million.