Game of Thrones is the TV show that keeps on paying off. The public are obsessed and that fandom now extends in a less than adoring way to the professional who have illegally hacked the script to the fourth episode of the show, not set to air until the coming year.
Hackers claim to have stolen 1.5 terabytes of private data from the TV network HBO. This includes scripts, never-released episodes, private information about actors and about upcoming shows. This includes a list of personal addresses and phone numbers of Game of Thrones celebrity actors.
For all the Curb Your Enthusiasm fans out there, there was also some information about the upcoming episodes leaked in the hack, so enjoy.
The hackers themselves are calling this break-in the “Game of Thrones HBO Hack”. Something like “Spoiler Alert” or "Identity theft" would have been much more fitting.
Of course, the purpose of the hack is to ransom huge sums of Bitcoin cash from the network to the tune of $6 million. But so far HBO obviously has not agreed to pay that amount. The 1.5 terabytes look small in comparison to the 100 terabytes that were stolen from Sony back in 2014.
HBO released a statement where they confirm that they are working closely with cyber tech experts and authorities to prevent any more leaks of this kind of information and are intent on hunting down the perpetrators.
White Hat and Black Hat hacking
The lines between white hat hacking and black hat are obviously blurring. What if these hackers really wanted to help out humanity by releasing the next episode of Game of Thrones early? O.k, maybe not help humanity, but not necessarily create economic chaos.
In all seriousness, like in any cyber attack, there is a lot of potential damage. First and foremost, the safety of the stars has been compromised by their addresses and personal phone numbers getting leaked to the wide world web. That would be pretty terrifying if I was a Hollywood star and hundreds of people came to know my whereabouts and phone number. Celebrity stalkers can and have been extremely violent in the past.
Also, HBO themselves can suffer not only financial losses because of the leaks of sensitive information, but also a loss in reputation. Perhaps new shows can choose to go with another network if the reputation of the company continues to suffer.
HBO was smart. They emailed the hackers back and offered a small payment of $250,000 towards the full ransom. This was clearly a stall tactic, used to be able to track the hackers and get the network some time to hire the right experts and secure all of its information.
This is why it is so important for every large company to have its own cyber security department. The obvious challenges are how to keep the staff up to date with the latest knowledge and the latest threats that are facing the cyber security community.
It seems that a plausible short term solution for HBO is to hire a team of cyber security experts and to work closely with the US government to be able to track the hackers and to prevent any more damage from happening to the business, and a hugely popular show.