Wednesday, 9 August 2017

‘Game Of Thrones’ Hackers Gave HBO Three Days To Pay Millions In Ransom

Hackers that released fourth episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones season seven last week has dropped their second trove of purported internal data from the premium network. And this time it's not just nihilistic Game of Thrones spoilers—there's a ransom note, too.

The hackers gave HBO three days to respond. Hackers who claim to have a trove of information from HBO have threatened to continue to leak episodes of the network’s shows and other sensitive information unless they are paid a large ransom.



The anonymous group demanded HBO pay millions of dollars in bitcoin to stop it from posting the information publicly.

The threat was posted alongside a 3.4 GB cache of other data the group says it stole from HBO. The cache contains:

  • A draft script of an upcoming “Game of Thrones” episode.
  • One month’s worth of emails from the inbox of an HBO executive.
  • A screenshot of folders with labels like “Budgets,” “Legal,” and “Licensing & Retail.”
  • Documents containing the personal phone numbers and email addresses of “Game of Thrones” cast members, including Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, and Lena Headey.
  • The demands came in the form of a five-minute video addressed to the network’s CEO, Richard Plepler, from a “Mr. Smith.” The video was set to the “Game of Thrones” theme music.


According to the AP, the video text was in English “peppered with misspellings and pop-culture references.”

The hackers said it took them six months to penetrate HBO’s network. They demanded their “6-month salary in bitcoin” and claimed they usually made $12 million to $15 million a year from blackmail such as this, implying a ransom demand of between $6 million and $7.5 million.

The hackers gave HBO three days to pay, although their letter was not dated.

On July 31, the group claimed to have stolen a total of 1.5 terabytes, or 1,500 GB, of data from the network.

The hackers’ website, Winter-Leak.com, appears to be down. It is not immediately clear why.

An HBO representative confirmed that the company was conducting a “forensic review” and that it did not believe its “email system as a whole has been compromised.”

The FBI and the cyber-security firm Mandiant, which investigated the 2014 Sony hack, is working with HBO to get to the bottom of the issue.

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