HBO offered $250K to hackers to buy time, leaked email says

Gwen Vasquez
August 12, 2017

The hackers behind HBO's data breach have allegedly leaked an email in which the channel offered them $250,000 as a "bounty payment", according to U.S. reports including in Variety.

So far, the hackers have released multiple episodes of HBO shows including Game of Thrones, Ballers and Room 104, along with scripts of already-aired and upcoming episodes. Scripts from shows such as "Game of Thrones" were leaked online ahead of Sunday's episode.

The dump itself was just 3.4 gigabytes - mostly technical data that appears to provide a topography of HBO's network and to list network-administrator passwords.

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But the negotiations with HBO aren't going well, a new report explains.

A hacker or a group of hackers called "Mr. Smith" claimed responsibility for the cyberattack and said they had about 1.5 terabytes of data from HBO. Both Varietyand The Hollywood Reporterreport receiving an email from the hackers containing a transcript of a message sent by HBO offering payment. The executive asked the hackers for more time in an attempt to "establish the necessary account and acquire bitcoin" due to the size of the ransom. (It is also important to point out that HBO doesn't care about demo ratings like other networks, because they aren't ad-supported and run off subscription fees).

The unnamed HBO exec told hackers that the company has "been working hard since [July 23] to review all of the material that you have made available to us". The Hollywood Reporter says it received an email from the hackers a week ago saying that "it's just about money". HBO has not publicly commented on their investigation or the "bounty payment". "We have weeks of negotiations with HBO officials, but they broke their promises and want to play with us".

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