When some hackers said they had access to private HBO emails last week, many didn’t think they were serious until today at least when a link was made public to internal HBO documents and a summary of an upcoming Games of Thrones episode. This is the first proof so far that they have what they say they have even though HBO hasn’t come out to publicly admit or deny that the materials are indeed authentic.
In a video letter to HBO CEO Richard Plepler, the hackers said “We successfully breached into your huge network”, they also added that “HBO was one of our difficult targets to deal with but we succeeded (it took about 6 months).”
They are now demanding an undisclosed multi-million dollar ransom from HBO in order for them not to reveal all they claim they have on the network.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, an HBO spokesperson said “HBO believed that further leaks might emerge from this cyber incident when we confirmed it last week. As we said, the forensic review is ongoing. While it has been reported that a number of emails have been made public, the review to date has not given us a reason to believe that our e-mail system as a whole has been compromised.”
Well that’s what companies say maybe for public relation reasons at first and then in some cases we find out that the hackers actually successfully breached the company’s servers. Breaches like this are not uncommon even as we remember the Sony breach allegedly by North Korean hackers who threatened the company not to release a movie depicting their leader in a comic manner back in 2014. Well it turns out they kept their words and hacked into Sony’s systems which led the company to pull the movie from theatres.
Then there’s the Yahoo 2014 breach that may have affected up to 1 billion accounts. This is said to have spread to LinkedIn users whose details may have been stolen as of this as well.
Hackers claimed they had successfully hacked into Apple’s iCloud earlier this year but Apple repeatedly said it was all blackmail. We don’t know exactly how that turned out but the hackers also provided proof which Apple neither confirmed nor denied at the time.
We’ll look to see if HBO confirms this in the days ahead or if the hackers would eventually make good on their threat and release the documents to the public. In any case, it’s a crime that the FBI is likely to be interested in because whatever the hackers claim to have will eventually be regarded as theft of intellectual property.