On Monday, Entertainment Weekly reported that HBO had been hacked by actors who claimed to have obtained 1.5 terabytes of data from the company.
“HBO recently experienced a cyber incident, which resulted in the compromise of proprietary information,” the network confirmed in a statement. “We immediately began investigating the incident and are working with law enforcement and outside cybersecurity firms. Data protection is a top priority at HBO, and we take seriously our responsibility to protect the data we hold.”
At first, the hackers released unaired episodes of “Ballers” and “Room 104″ along with written materials describing an unreleased “Game Of Thrones” episode. Today, they leaked even more unaired episodes of HBO shows, a sign of the enormous scope of the attack. Here’s what we know.
The FBI Is Investigating The Hack, Which Is Seven Times Bigger Than The 2014 Sony Hack
It’s still not known what exactly the hackers got access to, but the size of the data breach suggests that they got plenty of video.
To put in context the 1.5 terabytes — or 1,500 gigabytes — claim, in the Sony case, about 200 gigabytes of data was released online, a damaging deluge that brought the studio to its knees and led to the ouster of then co-chair Amy Pascal. “A traditional business-grade DSL link would take about two weeks at full blast to exfiltrate that much data,” says Farsight Security CEO Paul Vixie, noting that a finished Blu-ray is about 30 gigabytes. “If not for video and sound, a corporation the size of HBO might fit [entirely] in a terabyte, including all the email and spreadsheets ever written or stored.”…
Sources say HBO is working with the FBI and cybersecurity firm Mandiant, which led the forensic investigation on the Sony hack (ironically, Mandiant also was targeted by hackers around the same time as the HBO breach).
[The Hollywood Reporter]
The Hackers Have Released Episodes Of Five HBO Shows, Including ‘Game Of Thrones’
This morning, the hackers made the episodes available for anyone to download on a newly launched site called WinterLeak — which also has a section called ‘Coming soon …!”
The uploaded data includes unreleased episode 3 and 4 of popular TV series Games of Thrones Season 7 and its script, episode 1, 2 and 3 of Ballers’s season 3, Episode 1 and 2 of upcoming comedy series Barry, unreleased Episode 2 and 3 of Room 104 TV series, episode 2 of Season 2 of TV series Insecure.
There are four other files in which three are labeled as HBO Is Falling – Part 01, HBO Is Falling – Part 02, Download HBO Is Falling Part 03, and Viviane Passwords.
The hackers very clearly want attention for their misdeeds — on Saturday night, they sent an email to several reporters announcing “the greatest leak of cyber space era.”
The hacker’s e-mail read as follows:
“Hi to all mankind. The greatest leak of cyber space era is happening. What’s its name? Oh I forget to tell. Its HBO and Game of Thrones……!!!!!! You are lucky to be the first pioneers to witness and download the leak. Enjoy it & spread the words. Whoever spreads well, we will have an interview with him. . . HBO is falling.”
The Company’s CEO Is Reportedly Handling The Hack As Well As Possible
HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler sent out a company-wide email explaining the hack before it was widely reported.
“As most of you have probably heard by now, there has been a cyber incident directed at the company which has resulted in some stolen proprietary information, including some of our programming,” he wrote. “Any intrusion of this nature is obviously disruptive, unsettling, and disturbing for all of us. I can assure you that senior leadership and our extraordinary technology team, along with outside experts, are working round the clock to protect our collective interests. The efforts across multiple departments have been nothing short of herculean. It is a textbook example of quintessential HBO teamwork…”
Plepler’s getting praised for getting out in front of the story and not leaving his employees in the dark.
“It was one of the best examples of how to react to a crisis and communicate to your employees,” says [former federal prosecutor Hemanshu] Nigam. “I’ve never seen it happen this fast.” (With Sony, it took then-chairman Michael Lynton 12 days to email employees about the status, though he was in largely unchartered waters at the time.)
[The Hollywood Reporter]
This Isn’t The First Time ‘Game Of Thrones’ Episodes Have Leaked
Leaks of episodes from previous seasons reportedly lead the company to force actors to adopt two-factor authentication to log into their email — a move that unfortunately did not prevent the latest hack.
HBO has struggled with Game of Thrones leaks in the past. In 2015, the first four episodes of season 5 leaked online. HBO eventually confirmed that they came from advance screeners usually given to an approved group, like members of the press. In 2016, HBO Nordic, which is available in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland, accidentally released a season 6 episode a full day early.
The Hack Could Affect AT&T’s Acquisition Of Time Warner
HBO is owned by Time Warner, so any damage to its brand and assets could affect that merger (if the Department of Justice approves it).
[T]he HBO hack comes at a delicate time for Time Warner. In October, AT&T agreed to buy the company for $85 billion. It’s no secret that HBO is the star performer of the portfolio, so a sprawling hack could impact the ultimate sale price.
“It’s fair to draw parallels to the Yahoo hack in this case,” says Hemanshu Nigam, a former federal prosecutor of online crime and onetime chief security officer of News Corp. In that case, at least 500 million customer accounts were compromised, leading Verizon to extract a $350 million discount in its $4.5 billion purchase of the online giant.
[The Hollywood Reporter]