Hackers using the name “Mr. Smith” launched a cyberattack against HBO on July 31, accessing 1.5 terabytes of the network’s data and leaking upcoming episodes of TV shows Ballers, Room 104 and Game of Thrones. They also released the script for an upcoming (at the time) Game of Thrones episode.
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On Monday, the hackers posted a fresh cache of stolen files, including another upcoming episode script and a month’s worth of email from the account of Leslie Cohen, HBO’s vice-president of film programming. In exchange for their silence, the hackers demanded “our six-month salary in Bitcoin,” which would amount to roughly $6 million.
In the latest development, the hackers have released the personal phone numbers, email addresses and home addresses of Game of Thrones Season 7 cast members, among them Emilia Clarke (Daenerys), Lena Headey (Cersei), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) and Kit Harington (Jon Snow). All documents that have been leaked bear a watermark with the message “HBO is Falling.”
The hackers claim that they’re not criminals, but “white hats” (used to reference people of good and moral standing, or, in computer speak, someone who hacks into a network to evaluate its security). In the ransom note sent to HBO, they say “Its [sic] a game for us. Money isn’t our main purpose. We don’t want to endanger HBO’s situation nor cause it to lose its reputation. We want to be your partner in a tiny part of HBO’s huge income.”
As of this writing, HBO has not bowed to any demands, and is reviewing the data to discover exactly what was leaked.
In a statement to Wired, HBO spokesperson Jeff Cusson said “the review to date has not given us a reason to believe that our email system as a whole has been compromised. We continue to work around the clock with outside cybersecurity firms and law enforcement to resolve the incident.”
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.
The hackers claim to have more data, including scripts, upcoming episodes of HBO shows and movies, and information damaging to HBO. To date, they have released only 3.4 GB of data from the initial hack of 1.5 TB.
Variety reported on Wednesday morning that at least one of the leaked documents seems to have been manipulated by the hackers — to make it look like they accessed the email of HBO CEO Richard Plepler — casting doubt on the severity of the hack and the abilities of “Mr. Smith.”
— With files from The Associated PressFollow @CJancelewicz
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