Recently, a news that jolted the entire media industry was the cyber attack on HBO where hackers gained access to sensitive sources of information which contained contracts of actors, upcoming episodes, and details regarding the strategic decisions of the company. With the advent of online storage and advancement of internet resources, the biggest menace of the digital age has become cyber-crimes. Personal computers to information systems used by significant state institutions, the dependency on the internet have led to the vulnerability of cyber attacks. In recent times, multi-dollar organizations like Disney, Yahoo, and HBO have been victims of hacking and other forms of cyber-attacks.
The hackers who illegally gained access to the information peripherals of HBO have released a screenshot of an email where an eminent manager of HBO, John Beyler, is offering the hackers Bitcoins of worth $250,000 as a “bug bounty payment”. The email looks like a concise string of a lengthy conversation where negotiation is trying to be done for the retrieval of classified information in return for money. The email is dated back to 27th of July. The language of the letter is very articulate and tries to imply that it isn’t a ransom amount, instead, it is a reward given for identifying the loopholes and vulnerabilities of HBO’s security system. The hackers have claimed that they have sensitive data of about 1.5 TB.
Till now, HBO has yet not released any official statement or stance on this situation but according to some journalists, the data has been leaked and HBO is trying to buy some time by using delaying tactics.
The hackers stated while conversing with a journalist that
It’s just about money. We have weeks of negotiations with HBO officials, but they broke their promises and want to play with us…,
Some episodes of Room 104 and Ballers have been leaked following the news of security breach. There were some scripts leaked with the claim of being Game of Thrones episodes. The hackers have stated that there are personal details that can prove to be disastrous for the company.
We will have to look how HBO comes out of this swamp because this is a testing case for the entire industry. If HBO sets a precedent of opening their treasure chests for securing their information, such cases of security breaches might augment encouraging other cyber criminals to attack wealthy entities to receive the ransom.
It must not be ignored that this news of the cyber attack came at a very sensitive time when there was hearsay that Parent Time Warner is seeking regulatory approval to sell itself to AT&T at $85.4 billion.