Hackers are demanding $6 million in Bitcoin after stealing a reported 1.5 terabytes of data. That data includes scripts for upcoming episodes to HBO's most popular show -- Game of Thrones.
Information released thus far includes drafts of five Game of Thrones episodes, Ballers, and internal documents with administrative passwords. The leaked materials also reportedly included a list of contact information for Game of Thrones actors.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, an HBO 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."
D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, two principal writers and directors of Game of Thrones [Image Source: Suzi Pratt/Wikimedia Creative Commons]
Hackers claim it took six months to breach HBO
The initial email demanding funds was sent to HBO CEO Richard Plepler. According to the hackers, it took six months to breach HBO. They also claimed that there were 17 other targets. Three refused to pay the hackers.
If 1.5 terabytes is an accurate number, that makes the HBO hack seven times larger than Sony's hack in 2014. The information stolen from Sony went beyond movie scripts into personal email correspondences among executives. It also showed messages justifying the pay gap between American Hustle actress Jennifer Lawrence and her male co-stars. That information along with racially-driven remarks toward former President Barack Obama led to Sony co-chair Amy Pascal stepping down from her job.
Just two days ago, hackers sent another email to media outlets like the Hollywood Reporter. In this email, the hackers said they didn't release new material because an HBO competitor wanted to buy everything. However, that's a tough claim to validate and an extremely risky move for any rival network -- a point THR also noted in its reporting. To stop the leaks, the ransom is listed at "our 6-month salary in Bitcoin," the New York Timesreported.
Game of Thrones garners millions of viewers with each episode. Since airing in 2011, it has become one of HBO's most popular shows ever. The season 6 finale brought in a whopping 9 million viewers on its debut night. Most shows descend into obscurity after the third season. Now on its seventh season, the show continues to enthrall millions. The most recent episode of Game of Thrones got leaked online two days prior to its Sunday night air time. However, the leak was due to a miscommunication with HBO's distribution partner and not the hack.
[Image Source: GameOfThrones/YouTube]
HBO said it doesn't plan on losing Game of Thrones information (or anything else internal) without a fight.
"We continue to work around the clock with outside cybersecurity firms and law enforcement to resolve the incident," said a spokesperson. "Meanwhile, our dedicated employees continue to focus on delivering the high quality of entertainment and service for which we are known."