The latest in entertainment news is a doozy. HBO, the network behind shows like Game of Thrones and Westworld, was the victim of a cyber attack over the weekend, according to reports.
After similar leaks from Sony and Netflix, HBO is keeping mum about the details, but we do have some information on the attack. Here’s what you need to know.
The long and the short of it: HBO was hacked. It appears as though cyber hackers were able to obtain episodes of various TV shows belonging to the network and created a website containing links to them.
However, TV show episodes and scripts weren’t the only material that was stolen. According to IP Echelon, a security company hired by HBO, the hackers also obtained “thousands of Home Box Office (HBO) internal company documents,” reports Variety. These documents include employee names, email addresses, and other sensitive information. The hackers are now demanding that HBO pay a ransom in order prevent the release of this sensitive information. Per the Associated Press, the hackers are demanding, “our 6-month salary in bitcoin,” and noted that they earn up to $15 million per year from blackmail.
How we found out
In order to get the word out about their website, the hackers mass emailed the link to many entertainment journalists. The subject line: “1.5 TB of HBO data just leaked!!!”
The email reportedly contained the following message: “You are lucky to be the first pioneers to witness and download the leak. Enjoy it & spread the words.”
Game of Thrones
The mega-popular series, which is famously kept under wraps, was among the affected titles, but it remains to be seen whether the results will be detrimental. A script, allegedly that of Season 7’s upcoming fourth episode, was made available.
It was originally reported that no actual GoT footage was shared by the hackers. This was obviously good news for HBO, but some reports suggest that this may not be true. According to Hack Read, the hackers have uploaded a file that appears to be episode 4 of the seventh season.
In addition to the GoT script, download links to episodes of several other HBO series were included on the site. Among them is the second episode of Season 2 of Issa Rae’s Insecure, which made waves when it premiered on the network in 2016.
Additionally, the first two episodes of Barry, HBO’s upcoming comedy starring Henry Winkler and Bill Hader, were also made available. Episodes from Ballers Season 3 and of the recently premiered Room 104 complete the list.
Who was behind it
The hackers haven’t been — and likely never will be — identified. The composer of the email referred to himself as Mr. Smith and included a contact email on the site.
It’s hard to say what an investigation will turn up. But what we do know is that the hacker or hackers aren’t throwing in the towel — the messages, “ Coming soon …!” and “To be continued …,” can be seen on the site, indicating that they have more content to release.
What HBO said
As previously stated, HBO isn’t revealing any details about what was or wasn’t leaked. However, the network did release a statement to the public:
HBO recently experienced a cyber incident, which resulted in the compromise of proprietary information. We immediately began investigating the incident and are working with law enforcement and outside cybersecurity firms. Data protection is a top priority at HBO, and we take seriously our responsibility to protect the data we hold.
How this will impact the series
Fortunately for HBO (and fans who like to avoid spoilers), the network isn’t likely to see much fallout from the hack. From everything we’ve seen with past breaches, GoT ratings don’t generally suffer even if an episode is leaked.
The question now is whether or not the hackers actually have more they’re preparing to leak. So the full outcome of this attack remains to be seen.