Hackers who claim to have stolen 1.5 terabytes of data from HBO's servers have released a video demanding a multimillion-dollar ransom, accompanied by proof of their willingness to follow through on the threats.
The Guardian reports the hackers have released 3.4 GB of proprietary data, including draft scripts of upcoming Game of Thrones episodes and a document containing phone numbers and email addresses for stars Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey and Emilia Clarke. Other documents include a spreadsheet of legal claims and technical data on HBO's internal network.
The data dump also features a video summary of the Aug. 13 episode, with stills illustrating the plot, as well as a screenshot of a file directory displaying folders for several other HBO shows.
Simultaneously with the release of the leaked data, a representative of the hacking group who identifies as "Mr. Smith" posted a video addressed to HBO chief executive officer Richard Plepler that demands "our six-month salary in bitcoin." That amounts to several million dollars by the hackers' reckoning, as they claim to bring in $12 million to $15 million annually from similar blackmailing efforts. The hackers assert that, out of 17 targets, only three have refused to pay. Of course, it's not possible to verify those claims.
Despite their demands, the hackers insist it's all a game, and that "money isn't our main purpose." "We don’t want to endanger HBO’s situation nor cause it to lose its reputation," Mr. Smith says in the video. "We want to be your partner in a tiny part of HBO’s huge income."
HBO spokesperson Jeff Cusson told Wired the leak wasn't entirely unexpected following the system breach, and that the cable network's "forensic review is ongoing." He added that, so far, it doesn't appear their entire email system has been compromised, unlike the situation in the infamous Sony hack of 2014. "We continue to work around the clock with outside cybersecurity firms and law enforcement to resolve the incident," Cusson said.
The network has had a rough few weeks, as not only did news come to light that hackers had breached HBO's system but also, in an unrelated leak, Sunday's episode of Game of Thrones appeared online early. HBO doesn't believe the hackers represented by "Mr. Smith" possess actual episodes of Thrones, although they have threatened to release episodes of other series with their "HBO is Falling" logo superimposed.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.