Demanding ransom, HBO hackers leak "Game of Thrones" stars’ phone numbers

HBO is being blackmailed for millions of dollars from hackers that have stolen tons of data

Published August 8, 2017 12:12PM (EDT)

"Game of Thrones" (HBO/Macall B. Polay)
"Game of Thrones" (HBO/Macall B. Polay)

Westeros, the land where most of HBO’s immensely popular medieval fantasy series “Game of Thrones” takes place, has a lot of well-guarded castles. But the defenses at HBO itself have proven to be weak against attackers armed not with swords and trebuchets, but with laptops and hacking tools.

Just days after an upcoming “Game of Thrones” script and two pending episodes of “Ballers” and “Room 104” were leaked online, HBO says a hacking group leaked the personal phone numbers and emails of some “Game of Thrones” actors – including Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey and Emilia Clarke.

Salon reviewed the leaked content and it appears to indeed contain internal HBO documents, including administrative passwords and the emails and phone numbers of the actors. Wired reports that the latest leak also came with HBO documents watermarked “HBO is Falling,” the hacking group’s motto.

Mashable reports that HBO boss Richard Plepler recently received a video ransom note from a group or individual called “Mr. Smith” demanding that the network pay up within days or it will continue to dribble sensitive data online, accessible to anyone prowling piracy websites.

See it below:

"Our demand is clear and Non-Negotiable: We want XXXX dollars to stop leaking your Data," the video message says. "HBO spends 12 million for Market Research and 5 million for GOT7 advertisements. So consider us another budget for your advertisements!" It adds, "Leakage will be your worst nightmare . . . So make a wise decision!"

HBO is not disclosing the amount demanded by the ransom (that "XXXX"), but according to the Guardian the hackers claim to earn up to $15 million a year in similar blackmailing schemes. They’re demanding six months’ worth of their annual income, payable in the bitcoin crypto-currency. HBO says it’s working with law enforcement and cyber-security experts to find out how the attack occurred.

In a world where content is king, such attacks can be costly. The cyber-attacks on HBO come just as AT&T is attempting to buy HBO’s parent, Time Warner, in a deal currently valued at about $85 billion. If HBO, a gem in Time Warner’s crown, can’t keep its programs (much less its actors’ private information and internal passwords) secure, its value of to both Time Warner and AT&T could be diminished.

The hackers claim to possess an immense 1.5 terabytes of data, equivalent to a library’s worth of high-definition full HBO series. So far, the hackers have leaked only about 3.5 gigabytes. One terabyte is equivalent to 1,000 gigabytes.

On Friday, social media posts began emerging claiming that viewers had already watched “The Spoils of War,” episode four of the current season seven of “Game of Thrones” that was officially released on Sunday.

By Angelo Young

MORE FROM Angelo Young

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