Multiple accounts for HBO shows, including True Blood, Silicon Valley, Veep and Vinyl, were taken over, along with HBO’s main account and various Help accounts. (HBO Canada was not impacted.) The message posted to each account read:
“Hi, OurMine are here, we are just testing your security ,HBO team please contact us to upgrade the security – ourmine .org-> Contact”
HBO regained control of their Twitter accounts approximately 40 minutes after the hack, and deleted all of the OurMine tweets. They are currently “investigating” how the hack took place and why it was so simple for OurMine operatives to take over, if it actually was OurMine. That has not been confirmed, and HBO wouldn’t comment further or speculate.
Given the recent attacks on HBO, this could be a diversionary tactic; it also serves as another public embarrassment for the beleaguered network.
(A small detail muddying the hack’s origin is its deviation from past hacks. NBC News points out that in Wednesday night’s tweets, the name “OurMine” had faint accent marks, making it look like “Our⁻Mi⁻ne,” something that has never been seen with an OurMine hack before.)
Up until now, the hacks have been primarily blamed on an as-yet-unknown hacker or group of hackers named “Mr. Smith.” OurMine is a known anonymous hacker organization, sometimes called “OurMine Team,” and has taken over the social media accounts of several prominent figures and sites in the past few years, like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Netflix and BuzzFeed.
This all happened after Sunday’s upcoming Game of Thrones episode — titled Death Is the Enemy — was inadvertently leaked online early Wednesday, by HBO itself. HBO accidentally made the episode available to its Spanish and Nordic subscribers in its on-demand section. It was live for an hour, ripped online and spread everywhere, from YouTube to Reddit.
A spokesman for HBO Europe said, “We have learned that the upcoming episode of Game of Thrones was accidentally posted for a brief time on the HBO Nordic and HBO España platforms. The error appears to have originated with a third-party vendor and the episode was removed as soon as it was recognized. This is not connected to the recent cyber incident at HBO in the U.S.”
So far, the hackers have released multiple episodes of HBO shows including Game of Thrones, Curb Your Enthusiasm, 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.”
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.
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.