HBO’s hacker problem doesn’t seem to be getting any better.
In the hacker’s latest move, the unknown individual (or individuals) has posted several as-yet-unseen TV show episodes to the open internet, including some from the upcoming new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. The Larry David-led comedy wasn’t due for release until October.
Episodes of Ballers, Insecure, The Deuce and Barry were also made available online. Noticeably absent are new episodes of Game of Thrones, arguably HBO’s biggest show at the moment.
All of the content uploaded so far has been published to the website “Winter-Leak,” the apparent home and “official website” for the hacker’s exploits. (Global News won’t link to the site, and as of this writing, it appears to be down.) The hacker claims to have 1.5 terabytes of HBO’s information and content, and says the hack is “the greatest leak of cyber space (sic) era.”
“In a complicate (sic) operation, we successfully penetrated in to the HBO Internal Network, Emails, technical platforms, and database and got precious and confidential stuff that blaze your eyes,” the hacker wrote on the site. It’s unclear if the improper English is a ruse or genuine — though if it is the latter, it could be a clue to the geographic origin of the hack.
Last week, the hacker, who identifies himself/themselves as “Mr. Smith,” released an email allegedly sent to them by HBO offering $250,000 in exchange for a halt to the leaks. The legitimacy of the email hasn’t been confirmed by HBO, though an anonymous executive at the company said it was genuine.
In a new statement, HBO says they’re not yielding to the pressure or offering any payment to the hacker.
“We are not in communication with the hacker and we’re not going to comment every time a new piece of information is released,” the statement reads. “It has been widely reported that there was a cyber incident at HBO. The hacker may continue to drop bits and pieces of stolen information in an attempt to generate media attention. That’s a game we’re not going to participate in. Obviously, no company wants their proprietary information stolen and released on the internet. Transparency with our employees, partners, and the creative talent that works with us has been our focus throughout this incident and will remain our focus as we move forward. This incident has not deterred us from ensuring HBO continues to do what we do best.”
So far, the hackers have released multiple episodes of HBO shows including Game of Thrones, Ballers and Room 104, along with scripts of already-aired and upcoming episodes.
They’ve also leaked executive emails and released the personal phone numbers, email addresses and home addresses of Game of Thrones Season 7 cast members, among them Emilia Clarke (Daenerys), Lena Headey (Cersei), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) and Kit Harington (Jon Snow). All documents that have been leaked bear a watermark with the message “HBO is Falling.”
HBO’s quarter-million offer is a fraction of the hackers’ original demand: their “six-month salary in Bitcoin,” which equals approximately $6 million.
The hackers claim that they’re not criminals, but “white hats” (used to reference people of good and moral standing, or, in computer speak, someone who hacks into a network to evaluate its security).
In the ransom note sent to HBO, they say, “Its [sic] 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.”
So far the HBO leaks have been limited, falling well short of the chaos inflicted on Sony in 2014. In that attack, hackers unearthed thousands of embarrassing emails and released personal information, including salaries and social security numbers, of nearly 50,000 current and former Sony employees.
The hackers claim to have more data, including scripts, upcoming episodes of HBO shows and movies, and information damaging to HBO.
Variety reported last week that at least one of the leaked documents seems to have been manipulated by the hackers — to make it look like they accessed the email of HBO CEO Richard Plepler — casting doubt on the severity of the hack and the perpetrator’s abilities.