The group who hacked broadcaster HBO last week and leaked data relating to Game of Thrones and other shows have sent a ransom note, revealing their motivations behind the attack. According to Associated Press, HBO’s Chief Executive Richard Plepler was sent a five-minute video from a ‘Mr Smith’ which included: “Our demand is clear and Non-Negotiable: We want XXXX dollars to stop leaking your Data.”
“HBO spends $12 million for market research and $5 million for [Game of Thrones series seven] advertisements. So consider us another budget for your advertisements.”
The hackers claim they want ‘our six-month salary in bitcoin’ which they say is roughly $6 million (£4.6 million). The group alleges they earn upwards of $12-15 million (£9.2-11.5 million) a year from extorting huge companies after similar hacks.
The ransom video reportedly ends with an image of the Night King, a Game of Thronescharacter, with his hands in the air.
Credit: HBO/Game of Thrones
It’s understood that HBO is the hackers’ 17th target and only three of those refused to pay the ransom.
They reportedly took 1.5 terabytes of data from HBO and leaked it online, which included the script for an upcoming Game of Thrones episode, internal company documents and a screenshot showing they could have data relating to shows like Room 104, Insecure season 2, an untitled show by Silicon Valley director Mike Judge, and Curb Your Enthusiasmseason 9. All the data leaked online reportedly contains the watermark ‘HBO is Falling’
Another document taken appears to be the personal contact information for several Game of Thrones actors, including Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey and Emilia Clark, according to AP.
When the initial leak was made public, HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler described it as ‘disruptive, unsettling, and disturbing’ in a memo to staff, but he added that security and technology teams will be working ‘around the clock’ to protect the company’s assets.
The hackers reportedly took about six months to gain access to HBO’s system, with company spokesperson Jeff Cusson telling Wired: “The review to date has not given us a reason to believe that our email system as a whole has been compromised.
“We continue to work around the clock with outside cybersecurity firms and law enforcement to resolve the incident.”
The hackers have given the company three days to pay the ransom, but it’s unclear when that deadline was set.
HBO has been subjected to hacking in the past with regards to Game of Thrones, with four episodes of season five managing to make their way online, along with images of Jon Snow’s death.
Featured Image Credit: HBO/Game of Thrones