The group behind the week-old leak of Game of Thrones and other HBO shows is back once again, dropping the second batch of the leaked content from the network. What’s different this time is that there is a note to go along with it. A ransom note.
This new leak is half a gigabyte big, but the hackers say this is only a taste of what they managed to get their hands to, claiming to have in possession the total of 1.5 terabytes. This round of leaked content includes scripts of the 4 aired episodes of this season’s Game of Thrones, as well as the fifth one that hasn’t been released yet. All scripts have a subtle watermark made by hackers themselves stating that HBO is falling. Alongside the scripts, there is also a number of HBO internal documents, such as emails, employment agreements, financial balance sheets and marketing strategy PDFs.
Another surprise of this week’s leak is that the hackers have finally spoken about their motive for the leak – which would be extortion. Hackers made a video in which text rolls out to the sounds of the GoT’s theme, conveniently, and the text includes an ultimatum pointing to HBO CEO Richard Plepler. The hackers are demanding a certain amount of money that has been made unknown in the public version of the letter for the stolen data not to be leaked. They’ve explained their demand by stating how much money gets spent on market research and advertisements, considering themselves just another part of the budget for advertisements.
The video letter has been signed by a certain Mr. Smith, who added that HBO has three days to pay the demanded amount without including the date of the deadline.
The rest of the letter reads about many ways in which HBO could suffer in case the full leak happens, from upsetting fans to informing competitors. Included in the letter was also an image of the “Night King” villain from Game of Thrones with his arms raised, the word “standing” in one hand and “falling” in the other.
This nightmare of a leak started a week ago when the hackers sent their first notice to reporters, bragging about stealing a hefty amount of data from the network. But it wasn’t until this week that they have uncovered their motive.
Jeff Cusson, an HBO spokesperson responded to request for comment in a form of a written statement. He said that the company expects more data to be leaked, but is also working on the forensic review. He added that nothing has yet given them a reason to worry that their email system has been compromised and that they’re working around the clock with outside cyber security firms and law enforcement in order to resolve the issue.
He declined to comment on the ransom note the hackers sent.
Despite the threats, the hackers still claim that they are white hats, and not criminals, saying that this is all a game to them, and that money isn’t the main purpose. Apparently, they just want to be their partner in a tiny part of HBO’s huge income.