Hackers raise the heat in HBO blackmail attempt by leaking executive’s emails

HBO hacker leaks email revealing $250,000 bug bounty program

HBO Game of Thrones season 7, episode 4 photo
Macall B. Polay/HBO
Just last week, in an escalation of their threat to publicly release HBO stolen data, hackers sent private email correspondence of an unnamed HBO executive to the Hollywood Reporter as well as additional files. While the Hollywood Reporter didn’t release the specifics of what the attached files contained, file names included identifiers such as “Confidential” and “Script GOT7.” The latter is likely a reference to a script for an upcoming Game of Thrones episode.

But now, it would appear that the hackers are releasing more emails, and it reveals that HBO was willing to make a “bounty payment” of $250,000 in order to reward “white hat IT professionals” for “bringing these types of things to our attention,” where “things” obviously refers to data breaches. As first reported by Variety, the offered sum was meant to “stall for time while the company attempted to assess the serious situation.” Unfortunately, it appears that the amount was insufficient.

The newest leaked email also asks the hacker for an extension to the ransom deadline. “You have the advantage of having surprised us,” the message reads. “In the spirit of professional cooperation, we are asking you to extend your deadline for one week.”

HBO has not commented about this latest leak.

Some of the previously leaked Game of Thrones materials include “marketing spreadsheets and media plans” related to promoting the new season of the popular series. Other information includes casting and script summaries, including summaries for future episodes. It’s unclear if the hackers will attempt to leak this information to Game of Thrones fan sites or other news organizations prior to episode air dates.

The hackers have demanded a ransom from HBO, but the total sum of that ransom hasn’t been disclosed by HBO or the hackers. It’s rumored to be roughly $6 million, to be paid in Bitcoin. In addition, the hackers sent a video message to HBO CEO Richard Plepler which stated “We successfully breached into your huge network … HBO was one of our difficult targets to deal with but we succeeded (it took about 6 months).”

The hackers also claim that HBO is their seventeenth target.

Detailing HBO’s response to the hack, a spokesperson said “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.”

The statement continues “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.” It’s unclear if the leak of the August 6 “The Spoils of War” Game of Thrones episode had an impact on the ratings of the popular show.’

Update: The HBO hackers have released yet another email from an HBO exec, this one detailing a $250,000 bug bounty. 

Home Theater

Game of Thrones’ season 8 premiere reminds us why Daenerys shouldn’t be queen

In the premiere episode of Game of Thrones' eighth season, Daenerys Targaryen is poised to rule the Seven Kingdoms, but all the evidence indicates that she's a terrible candidate for the job.
Movies & TV

The Game of Thrones season premiere was pirated 54 million times in 24 hours

Winter is here, and so are the pirates. The debut episode of Game of Thrones' final season was pirated 54 million times in the 24 hours after it aired, almost tripling the show's official viewership totals.
Computing

Microsoft says hackers were able to view Outlook.com emails

Microsoft's Outlook.com email platform saw a massive breach that caused confidential data to be accessed by hackers for months. It now appears the problem might have been much worse than initially thought, and worse than Microsoft admitted.
Movies & TV

Disney debuts the first photos from Star Wars series The Mandalorian

The Mandalorian, Jon Favreau's live-action Star Wars series planned for Disney's streaming video service, will be one of the most expensive television shows ever made. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Movies & TV

Ditch the torrents! How to legally watch Game of Thrones online

Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows on TV, but unless you're a cable subscriber, finding a way to watch isn't always easy. Check out our guide on how to watch online, whether you prefer using HBO, Hulu, or Amazon.
Movies & TV

Can't get enough lightsaber action? Here's how to get your Star Wars fix online

Few of us want to deal with DVDs or Blu-ray discs anymore. Unfortunately, the Star Wars movies are few and far between when it comes to streaming. If you want to watch Star Wars online, check out our guide on where to find the films.
Movies & TV

After Avengers: Endgame, what’s next for the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Here's what we know so far about the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Avengers: Endgame, from rumors and speculation about Phase 4 of the MCU to confirmed facts, films, and television shows.
Movies & TV

The 7 best TV episodes you can watch on YouTube for free

TV networks have made a habit of putting episodes from popular series on YouTube for free. From premium platforms like Showtime to experimental newcomers like Viceland, we compiled a few of the best episodes available on YouTube.
Movies & TV

Did I really watch that? Here's how to delete your Netflix viewing history

Everybody has some skeletons in their streaming closet, but you don't have to live with them if you don't want to. Learning how to delete your Netflix viewing history is easy, and we're here to help.
Movies & TV

Two Toy Story spinoffs schedule playdates with the Disney Plus streaming service

Disney's direct-to-consumer streaming video service Disney Plus will launch with an impressive catalog of classic content, new projects, and original shows and movies. Here is everything confirmed and rumored to be coming to the platform.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video and what’s leaving in May 2019

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in April and May, from new original series to classic films.
Movies & TV

Marvel and IMAX release even more Avengers: Endgame footage

The events of Avengers: Infinity War changed the Marvel Cinematic Universe in some big ways and left fans wondering how its heroes can possibly recover. Here's everything we know about Avengers: Endgame, the sequel to Infinity War.
Home Theater

What’s new on Hulu in May 2019, and what’s leaving soon

Our complete list of what's new on Hulu for May 2019, our personal favorites, and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on all the site has to offer -- and ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming ether.
Movies & TV

Final X-Men: Dark Phoenix trailer sends Marvel’s mutants into space

20th Century Fox has released a new trailer for X-Men: Dark Phoenix, which puts the spotlight on Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner as the powerful, telepathic mutant Jean Grey.