As was expected, things are getting even worse for HBO in the wake of an enormous security breach that resulted in 1.5 TB of company data, including scripts, episodes, and private employee information, falling into the hands of hackers. Today, those hackers demanded millions of dollars from HBO executive Richard Plepler in exchange for those 1.5 TB staying private.
Per reports including one from The Guardian, the hackers released a five-minute video from someone calling themselves ‘Mr. Smith’ to Plepler in which demands were made in order to keep that information private. In the video, the hackers claim to earn between $12 million and $15 million per year, and that with the HBO hack costing them six months, they expect six-months worth of their claimed yearly income — it’s impossible to verify any of these claims without knowledge of who the hackers are.
The hackers have demanded the money in bitcoin, the online currency that can be used anonymously. Bitcoin is frequently used in ransomware and money laundering schemes for this reason — while it will be possible to see when the hackers convert that bitcoin into real-world currency, it isn’t directly possible to associate a bitcoin account with a person.
The hackers released 3.4 GB of data out of the trove they accessed along with the video. That dump included more scripts of future Game of Thrones episodes, one month of emails from HBO Vice President Leslie Cohen, internal admin passwords for HBO’s networks, and a cast list for Game of Thrones including the email addresses and phone numbers of the show’s leads.
HBO says it is investigating the matter internally. There’s no word on whether or not HBO will pay the ransom — the hackers claim that HBO is their 17th victim and that only three victims have not paid the ransom, but once again, that claim cannot be verified.
Via The Guardian