Industry News

HBO hit again, millions demanded to prevent leak

Only a week after HBO CEO Richard Plepler confirmed a cyberattack on the network, hackers released on Monday a second round of scripts, Game of Thrones-related documents, marketing spreadsheets, media plans, actors’ personal phone numbers and emails, and a month’s worth of executive emails, writes The Associated Press.

The hacker “Mr. Smith” sent Plepler a five-minute video ultimatum requesting to pay “our 6-month salary in bitcoin” in three days or the group would leak online approximately 1.5 terabytes of TV shows and proprietary information. “Mr. Smith” claims blackmailing organizations brings an income between $12 million and $15 million. The text displayed in the video was written in poor English, with a number of pop-culture references.

“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),” says the video, according to Hollywood Reporter.

The video claims half a million dollars was spent to buy zero-day exploits used to break into a number of networks  through undetected software vulnerabilities. HBO is allegedly their 17th victim, out of which only three haven’t paid.

“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,” a spokesperson said to Hollywood Reporter.

The hackers requested they only speak with “Richard” in this matter.

About the author


From a young age, Luana knew she wanted to become a writer. After having addressed topics such as NFC, startups, and tech innovation, she has now shifted focus to internet security, with a keen interest in smart homes and IoT threats. Luana is a supporter of women in tech and has a passion for entrepreneurship, technology, and startup culture.