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HBO Hacked and Ransom Demanded

August 10, 2017

The television network HBO last week was hacked. Cyber criminals stole a huge amount of data from the company, including episode scripts for some of its biggest shows, such as Game of Thrones. This week, the hackers have released a letter demanding a ransom to stop the ongoing leaks.


What was stolen?

The hackers stole 1.5 terabytes of data making it one of the biggest data leaks we have seen in recent years. It dwarves the size of the hack Sony pictures suffered last year with seven times more data hacked. Along with scripts for some of the network’s biggest shows, some financial and health data of employees is believed to have been stolen.

The exact contents of the data stolen is still a bit of a mystery however. Thankfully, the company’s email system seems to have not been compromised, which caused a lot of Sony’s issues in the similar hack.

Attackers demand ransom

Initially, what the attackers behind the attack wanted was unknown – but unsurprisingly, money is the motivation. In a note with redactions released this week, the attackers said:

“Our demand is clear and non-negotiable: we want XXXX dollars to stop leaking your data”

The FBI has been brought in to investigate the attack, and Google has been served a legal notice to remove any links to the leaked data. CEO of HBO, Richard Pleper said:

“The problem before us is unfortunately all too familiar in the world we now find ourselves a part of.”

He’s right – HBO is becoming very familiar with the cyber threats to its business. It’s already widely accepted, Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in TV history, and the latest season of the show has had to cope with leaks once again. Episode 4 of the current season was leaked online early by a partner of HBO, Star India.

The reality is – good cyber security is becoming an important and necessary part of doing business. Without it – succumbing to cyber criminals’ demand becomes the necessary part of business – which no one wants. It’s better to be proactive now and improve cyber security, rather than do it after an attack – and double the financial cost of dealing with cyber-attacks.