HBO Is Falling

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HBO "is Falling"

August 8th, 2017

HBO Reeling from Latest Releases of Information


Last week we covered the nascent story of a hack that may rival Sony’s in magnitude as it broke. Now, it seems those same hackers have made good on their threat and have released additional compromising information.

The additional load of their purported hoard of at least 1.5 terabytes of data contains a cache of internal documents, including at least a month of emails from HBO’s vice president of film programming, Leslie Cohen, and scripts of 5 episodes of the latest acclaimed Game of Thrones series, including one set for release this Sunday. Other compromising documents include HBO internal network technical documents and administrator passwords, financial balance sheets, employment agreements, and marketing-strategy PDFs, with one list even containing the personal phone numbers, home addresses, and emails of leading Game of Thrones actors including Peter Dinklage. These documents are all watermarked with the tag “HBO is Falling”.

A contact for the hackers named “Mr. Smith” has revealed that the hackers have been motivated by extortion. In a letter set in a scrolling video with the Game of Thrones score playing mockingly in the background, the hackers claim they have reproduced an ultimatum sent to HBO CEO Richard Plepler for a ransom of their stolen information. Portions of the letter are following: "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 GOT7 advertisements. So consider us another budget for your advertisements!". While the ransom amount has not been released, it is rumored to be $6 million, a million a month for the 6 months they claim it took them to hack HBO. The letter continues with vague details of a deadline 3 days after the unspecified send date of the letter and stresses the potential losses HBO may suffer from the full leak. The video ends with an image of the “Night King” from Game of Thrones, raising “standing” and “falling” in either hand, for the executives to brood over. Read the original letter here.

In addition to the ransom note, “Mr. Smith” also included threatening images in his email. Screenshots of files referencing a multitude of HBO shows are seen, including unreleased episodes of Room 104, Insecure, and even an untitled show by Silicon Valley directory Mike Judge.

While HBO told its staff that its entire email system has not been compromised, and they have issued a DMCA takedown notice in an effort to force search engines to remove links to the HBO documents, it remains to be seen just how damaging this hack will be for HBO. Especially as “Mr. Smith” claims they still have full access to their emails.

This string of attacks against large companies has many reevaluating their security policies, finding them outdated and in need of reinforcing, lest they find themselves another headline alongside HBO and Sony.

With our nearly decade of experience in the cybersecurity space, we believe one aspect enterprises should make a point of focusing on is Identity Access Management (IAM). Our selective partners and proprietary ORSUS software are more than capable of preventing a fiasco like this. Symantec can provide services such as endpoint protection. Thales has unique data layer protection to shield access to sensitive documents. These security measures drastically reduce the likelihood of being hacked in a similar manner (likely through phishing), and ensure incident isolation to quarantine the threat and detect it before it grows to this scale. Contact one of our representatives to learn more.


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