After being blackmailed for weeks, US-based television network HBO has now vowed to stop playing games with the cyber bullies, who late on Sunday leaked the yet-to-air episodes of five shows which do not include material related to marquee series Game of Thrones (GoT).
According to a report in New York Post, hackers leaked online the episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Ballers and Insecure as well as some from the yet-to-debut shows Barry and The Deuce.
On the latest dump, the TV network said that they were not in communication with the hackers and were “not going to comment every time a new piece of information is released”.
“It has been widely reported that there was a cyber incident at HBO. The hacker may continue to drop bits and pieces of stolen information in an attempt to generate media attention. That’s a game we’re not going to participate in,” the network was quoted as saying.
“Obviously, no company wants their proprietary information stolen and released on the internet,” HBO added.
“Transparency with our employees, partners and the creative talent that works with us has been our focus throughout this incident and will remain our focus as we move forward. This incident has not deterred us from ensuring HBO continues to do what we do best,” it said.
On Friday, in a bid to contain further leaks from a group of hackers, HBO reportedly offered to pay $250,000 to those who stole nearly 1.5TB data, including scripts of Game of Thrones (GoT) and other employee information, from the TV network.
A purported leaked e-mail sent to various media publications by the hackers appeared to come from an HBO executive, offering the ‘bug bounty’ of $250,000 for showing up weaknesses in the firm’s system.
“You have the advantage of having surprised us. In the spirit of professional cooperation, we are asking you to extend your deadline for one week. As a show of good faith on our side, we are willing to commit to making a bug bounty payment of $250,000 to you as soon as we can establish the necessary account and acquire Bitcoin, or we can wire the funds as soon as you give us the account information,” the e-mail read.
The e-mail, dated July 27, containing the ‘bug bounty’ offer was leaked by the hacker who goes by the name ‘Little Finger’ in a message promising a “second wave”.
According to the report, the HBO executive wrote that the company had not been able to acquire the amount of Bitcoin, which is nearly $6 million that the hackers had demanded.
However, HBO was yet to confirm the veracity of the e-mail.
“This episode of the HBO hack is turning out to be a Game of Thrones for HBO. As far back as July 27, HBO got into a negotiation with the hackers, it appears,” said Ankush Johar, Director, BugsBounty.com in a statement.
“There is a possibility that HBO’s pre-emptive bug bounty programme may have yielded a better security posture for them, avoiding this situation altogether,” he added.
Last, hackers leaked the script of Episode 5 of Game of Thrones Season 7 that was set to be aired on August 13, along with a note demanding ransom from the US-based television network.
The hacked material also contains “countless” HBO internal documents, including a month’s worth of a top executive’s e-mails, financial balance sheets, employment agreements and marketing-strategy PDFs.