The HBO hacking scandal is turning sour day-by-day. Now, the true colors of the hackers surface. It goes without saying that a loss of 1.5 TB HBO data is not a trivial joke. The cyber attackers demand a huge ransom from HBO officials. However, they do not intend to stop the leaks until their desire is met satisfactorily.
The latest divulgence senses a compromise with an HBO executive’s email. This has further seen a cache of more than 50 internal confidential document. This consists of the job offer letters to top executives, legal claims against the network, “Richard’s Contact list” labelled 37977 emails, and slides describing future technology ideas.
It has been put through via a publicly accessible link. More script leakage of the Game of Thrones series is noted here again. The HBO’s vice president for film programming, Leslie Cohen’s emails have been breached for the same.
One of the folders was tagged “Highly Confidential”. It displayed data characterized as ‘International’, ‘Budget’, ‘Licensing and Retail’, ‘Penguin Random House’, and ‘Legal’. Yet another document file yields information of the cast and crew of the Game of Thrones series. It listed email addresses and personal contacts of Lena Headley, Peter Dinklage, and Emilia Clark.
The hackers use the name “Mr. Smith”. It might be a cover up for the actual title of a person or even a group.
HBO’s international partner, Star India had received unaired episodes from undisclosed sources. Even so, they telecasted the Game of Thrones episode via leaks before broadcasting it on TV. The fourth segment of the seventh season (The Spoils of War) has suffered this setback. Limited chapters of the Larry David’s show, ‘Curb your enthusiasm’ have also been leaked by the cyber thieves.
Moreover, a video message was delivered by the hacker over the mail to the CEO of HBO, Richard Plepler. The message was highlighted in a white color against a black background.
It read: “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).”
“Mr. Smith” confirmed extortion to be their motive behind the hack. “Our demand is clear and Non-Negotiable: We want XXXX dollars to stop leaking your Data. HBO spends 12 million for Market Research and 5 million for GOT7 advertisements. So consider us another budget for your advertisements!”
The virtual thieves put up a big ask of 6-month salary in bitcoin. It translates to about $6 million conservative estimate.
The hacksters claim the HBO hack to be their 17th attempt. They also declare that only three previous victims avoided paying the ransom.
“Leakage will be your worst nightmare so make a wise decision!” This was the climax dialogue of the supposed “Mr. Smith”. They ended their note with the image of the Night King, the big bad villain from Game of Thrones fantasy.
The HBO hackers are in no mood to halt the ongoing leaks. They are probably enjoying destroying the reputation of the company. The cyber punks have threatened to furnish new ‘inside’ information of the HBO every week. It symbolizes a somewhat psychopath trait of the people behind the attack.
Despite that, they proclaim that they do not want the reputation of HBO to fall. They intend to share a part of their profit as a distribution unit of the HBO.
“It’s a game for us. Money isn’t our main purpose. We don’t want to endanger HBO’s situation nor cause it to lose its reputation. We want to be your partner in a tiny part of HBO’s huge income.”
This comes off as a good example of sarcasm. The attackers cannot give back what the company has lost, yet they want to be friends with them for their unlawful gain.
Meanwhile, HBO spokesperson, Jeff Cusson, reacts to the intrusion of the proprietary 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.”
He also added, “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.”