HBO-Hackergate 2017 (is that what we're calling this?) continues to develop. Last month, the cable giant had 1.5 terabytes of data stolen by hackers, which included episodes and scripts of shows, as well as emails from executives. The hackers have essentially been holding some of the remaining data for a quasi-ransom, and are being sure to keep the public informed of every development. A new email from the group claims HBO responded to the hacker's demands with one exec possibly working on securing a $250,000 payment in Bitcoin to possibly get the network's data back.
The HBO hacker released a document on Thursday to select publications related to the ongoing data leak at HBO, as reported by Variety. In what appears to be a screenshot of an email negotiation sent on July 27, an alleged HBO senior V.P. is offering to pay the hacker $250,000 as a "bounty payment." The email is quite carefully worded, avoiding language that suggests the bitcoin total is specifically a payoff to the hacker. Instead, things are framed as if the hacker is being rewarded for discovering flaws in HBO's system.
The alleged HBO executive writes that the according parties are working on setting up the right infrastructure to be able to make a large payment in bitcoin, with and that they are asking for an extended one-week deadline to do so. The email reads, "In the spirit of professional cooperation, we are asking you to extend your deadline for one week." But considering it's been two weeks since that email was supposedly first sent, it's unclear if anything actually went down.
People close to the investigation believe this to be a stalling tactic on HBO's part, as they take the extra time to assess the situation and the scope of the breach. The $250,000 payment is well short of the "six months salary" that the hacker originally demanded in a video letter sent to HBO CEO Richard Plepler. The hacker has claimed to only be in this for the money, with reported earnings of $12 million to $15 million a year just from blackmailing companies.
The hacker (it's unknown if this is a group of people or not) claims to have 1.5 terabytes worth of data, and has already leaked episodes of HBO dramas such as Ballers and Room 104. A script summary for a then-upcoming Game of Thrones episode was also released, but the fact that there hasn't been a lot of other concrete leaks has many thinking the hacked data was not as lucrative as originally believed.
HBO is only the latest Hollywood company to fall prey to hacking, which is becoming an increasingly big problem that has no real countermove yet. To give in to demands would be to help establish an industry standard, so how HBO plays this will likely be important in the future. Sony and Netflix also experienced some notable hacks in the past.
This is currently a developing situation, so stay with CinemaBlend and we'll keep you updated on all the big developments and HBO's response to them as soon as that information becomes available. If you're needing to know what'll be premiering on HBO and other networks in the future, head to our summer TV schedule and our fall TV guide.