Hack­ers de­mand mil­lions in ran­som for stolen HBO data

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Tali Ar­bel and Frank Ba­jak

NEW YORK» Hack­ers us­ing the name “Mr. Smith” posted a fresh cache of stolen HBO files on­line Mon­day, and de­manded that HBO pay a ran­som of sev­eral mil­lion dol­lars to pre­vent fur­ther such re­leases.

The data dump in­cluded what ap­pear to be scripts from five “Game of Thrones” episodes, in­clud­ing one up­com­ing episode, and a month’s worth of email from the ac­count of Leslie Co­hen, HBO’s vice pres­i­dent for film pro­gram­ming. There were also in­ter­nal doc­u­ments, in­clud­ing a re­port of le­gal claims against the net­work and job of­fer let­ters to top ex­ec­u­tives.

HBO, which pre­vi­ously ac­knowl­edged the theft of “pro­pri­etary in­for­ma­tion,” said it’s con­tin­u­ing to in­ves­ti­gate and is work­ing with po­lice and cy­ber­se­cu­rity ex­perts. The net­work said Mon­day that it still doesn’t be­lieve that its email sys­tem as a whole has been com­pro­mised.

This is the sec­ond data dump from the pur­ported hacker. 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.

Those be­hind the HBO hack claim to have more data, in­clud­ing scripts, up­com­ing episodes of HBO shows and movies, and in­for­ma­tion dam­ag­ing to HBO.

In a video di­rected to HBO CEO Richard Ple­pler, “Mr. Smith” used white text on a black back­ground to threaten fur­ther dis­clo­sures if HBO doesn’t pay up. To stop the leaks, the pur­ported hack­ers de­manded “our 6 month salary in bit­coin,” which they im­plied is at least $6 mil­lion.

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