HBO Hackers Demand Millions In Ransom After Posting Stolen 'Game Of Throne' Scripts Online

 08/08/2017 9:51 AM MDT
Credit: Global Panorama - Flickr

Hackers referring to themselves only as "Mr. Smith," which we assume is short for Vladimir Putin, posted a fresh trove of stolen HBO files on Monday, including yet to be aired Game of Thrones scripts, and demanded millions in ransom to prevent additional releases.  Per the Associated Press:

The data dump included what appear to be scripts from five "Game of Thrones" episodes, including one upcoming 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.

This is the second data dump from the purported hacker. So far the HBO leaks 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.

Those behind the HBO hack claim to have more data, including scripts, upcoming episodes of HBO shows and movies, and information damaging to HBO.

In aggregate, the hackers claim to have taken 1.5TB of data – the equivalent to several TV series box sets or millions of documents – but HBO said that it doesn’t believe its email system as a whole has been compromised, although it did acknowledge the theft of “proprietary information”.

In a video directed to HBO CEO Richard Plepler, "Mr. Smith" (a.k.a. "Vlad") used white text on a black background to threaten further disclosures if HBO doesn't pay up. To stop the leaks, the purported hackers demanded "our 6 month salary in bitcoin," which they implied is at least $6 million.  More from The Guardian:

The hackers demanded “our six-month salary in bitcoin”, claiming they earn $12m to $15m a year from blackmailing organisations whose networks they have breached. They said they would only deal directly with “Richard” and only send one “letter” detailing how to pay.

Along with the video, the hackers released 3.4GB of files. The dump contained technical data detailing HBO’s internal network and administrator passwords, draft scripts from five Game of Thrones episodes, including this week’s instalment, and a month’s worth of emails from HBO’s vice president for film programming, Leslie Cohen.

The hackers claim it took six months to break into HBO’s network, and that they spend $500,000 a year purchasing so called zero-day exploits that let them break into networks through holes not yet known to Microsoft and other software companies.

HBO confirmed the hack back over a week ago but said they were working with law enforcement and cybersecurity firms to address the problem...which doesn't sound like they have any intentions of paying a ransom.

The company says that it is working with law enforcement and cybersecurity firms.

HBO CEO Richard Pepler says in an email to the network’s employees that “proprietary information” was stolen in the hack. Spokesman Jeff Cusson would not comment on which specific TV episodes, movies or other video the hackers made off with.

Sorry, Vlad but you're barking up the wrong tree on this one.  Americans don't really care much if you meddled in our elections, we're quite aware that our intelligence agencies do that all the time, but if you drop a Game of Thrones spoiler then shit's going to get real.  Fair warning.

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