The hackers that breached HBO’s data security last week returned, leaking a top executive’s confidential emails and demanding an undisclosed sum to prevent any more data from being leaked.
There now exists a link posted by the hackers to a folder of internal HBO documents, including a script of the upcoming Game of Thrones episode this Sunday, as well as months of emails from their VP of film programming.
This is the first evidence we have that hackers did not just get into HBO’s data repositories, but also private email accounts as well.
The news broke due to an email sent by the hackers to The Hollywood Reporter which contained a link to the online cache of HBO’s files. Along with the link, the email also contained nine files with names such as “Confidential” and “Script GOT7” that seemed to be marketing spreadsheets, media plans, script summaries, as well as casting documents that contain personal contact information and phone numbers for Game of Thrones actors.
Following the link took reporters to an online store of emails that belonged to HBO’s vice president of film programming.
In addition to the confidential info, there was a ransom video message directed at HBO’s CEO, Richard Plepler, demanding an undisclosed sum of cash or more data will be posted online. “We successfully breached into your huge network,” read part of the message. “HBO was one of our difficult targets to deal with but we succeeded (it took about 6 months).”
The video then boasts that HBO is their 17th victim and that all but three failed to pay up.
Naturally, Hollywood Reporter is not revealing the specifics of the email’s contents nor are they able to tell if the same email was sent to other publications or Game of Thrones fan sites.
This latest ransom could very well indicate that the entirety of HBO’s email network was hacked. Last week after news of the incident broke, Plepler was quick to email HBO employees, saying,“We do not believe that our email system as a whole has been compromised, but the forensic review is ongoing.”
Even if it was only a single email account that was hacked, a vice president at a company would be privy to massive amounts of confidential info.
In response to the email, HBO issued a statement to the Hollywood Reporter:
“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.”
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