HBO Offered $250,000 to Hackers to Prevent Leaks: Report

HBO reportedly offered $250,000 (roughly Rs. 1.6 crores) to the hackers who have leaked unaired episodes, scripts, and personal information so far, according to an email sent to various publications.

According to Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, HBO termed it as “bug bounty payment”, calling it part of a programme where ethical hackers were rewarded for finding technical shortcomings, and bringing them to HBO’s attention. HBO has declined to comment on the matter.

Variety claims it spoke to a source close to the HBO investigation into the hack, who was able to confirm the authenticity of the email. The source added that the non-confrontational wording – as opposed to the outright public statements of non-negotiation policy uttered by other hacked companies – was a “way to stall for time while [HBO] attempted to assess the serious situation”.

HBO hoped that a quarter of a million payment would be enough to prevent any leaks, but as we now know, that wasn’t to be the case. Variety adds that the email is dated July 27, which was a few days before the hackers began to put what they have online.

The hackers’ ransom demand is “six months salary worth in bitcoin”, which given their claim of $12 million (roughly Rs. 76.5 crores) annually, comes to about $6 million (roughly Rs. 38.2 crores).

Earlier this week, the HBO hackers released phone numbers and email addresses of Game of Thrones cast members, as part of a 3.4GB data dump. They claim to have a total of 1.5TB.

The fourth episode of Game of Thrones that was leaked last Friday was part of an unrelated incident, involving Star India.

Image titled “JOH_0732” by star5112, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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