Game of Thrones is not new to leaks, but in one of the biggest HBO system breaches, hackers have managed to gain access to not just show scripts, but also emails of company executives. The hackers have been regularly posting Game of Thrones episodes online, but the breach is much deeper than it was originally thought to be. While initially it was believed that only the email of a top company executive had been hacked, the hackers have managed to gain access to marketing material for GoT as well as future media plans for the popular series.
The hackers emailed all the confidential files and reports to The Hollywood Hacker, and have demanded a ransom from HBO. It is unclear if the TV series episodes have been uploaded to other sites or to torrents by the same hackers. The hackers or hacker operate under the name of Mr. Smith, and the over million dollar ransom demand is to stop further files and sensitive data from leaking. HBO is said to be closely working with cyber security teams, and the police to catch the hacker and secure the data back. So far, emails only from Leslie Cohen, HBO’s vice president for film programming have been accessed. The emails shared include job offers to other top executives, internal communication and also other sensitive data. ALSO READ: Planning to watch a pirated version of Game of Thrones? HBO is coming
Despite the depth of the breach, HBO has maintained that not all employee systems have been compromised, and it is only the one system which is in the hands of the hackers. However, the hackers also have access to legal claims against HBO, and other financial data of GoT and other TV series. The exact amount of ransom isn’t mentioned by the hackers, but they are demanding bitcoins to the tune of “6 month salary in bitcoin” or $6 million. The ransom note was sent as a video to HBO CEO Richard Plepler, indicating that the account of more than one top level executive might have been breached. ALSO READ: India gets its own version of Silicon Valley with TVF’s Pitchers web series
While the cyber attack was first suspected when the episode four of the current season leaked online, HBO insisted that the leak was not part of a bigger hack. It was an unrelated leak, and Hotstar claimed responsibility. However, episode five and seven soon followed with other Game of Thrones related information. “HBO believed that further leaks might emerge from this cyber incident when we confirmed it last week. As we said, the forensic review is ongoing. While it has been reported that a number of emails have been made public, the review to date has not given us a reason to believe that our e-mail 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. Meanwhile, our dedicated employees continue to focus on delivering the high quality of entertainment and service for which we are known”, HBO has said in a statement. ALSO READ: Stanford researchers map the world of Game of Thrones
The hack on HBO is believed to be of a lesser magnitude than that faced by Sony back in 2014. The hack into Sony systems had led to the release of personal emails from many Sony employees, as well as salaries and social security numbers of nearly 50,000 Sony employees. Details of not just the people employed at that time were leaked, but information about even past executives and employees made their way online.