Hackers are holding Game of Thrones scripts hostage, demanding ransom from HBO

It’s suffocating, really.
It’s suffocating, really.
Image: HBO
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The hackers who claim to have hacked HBO’s network and stolen 1.5 terabytes of data from it are now threatening to “put an end” to the current season of Game of Thrones if the company doesn’t pay up.

The hackers released a trove of data on Monday, including the script to the upcoming fifth episode of the seventh season of Thrones, as well as internal company emails and employee contracts. Last week, the same hackers released the script to the previous episode of the flagship HBO show, as well as full episodes of Ballers and Room 104 that at the time had not yet aired.

Included in the latest dump was a ransom letter embedded in a video; the text scrolls down as music from Game of Thrones plays in the background. The letter, which is addressed to HBO CEO Richard Plepler, is largely incoherent but threatens to release more data unless the company pays “our 6 month salary to bitcoin.” (The actual amount was presumably sent directly to HBO but is redacted in the video.)

The hackers don’t specify what further Game of Thrones content they have, but suggest it could spoil the rest of the season for viewers if it is released.

“What we got from GOT 7 not only put an end to fate of this season but also corrupts your idea and efforts to season 8,” the hackers wrote in the note.

In recent months, hackers have repeatedly targeted media companies, stolen content, and demanded ransom to keep them from being released. Disney and Netflix both refused to pay hackers who stole a copy of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie and episodes of Orange is the New Black, respectively, and the content was subsequently released to the public. As a result, as Quartz reported in May, the increasing commonality of such attacks by hackers have led content producers to take extreme measures to protect unreleased work.

Last week, HBO confirmed for Quartz that its data was indeed compromised by hackers, and said it was “working with law enforcement and outside cybersecurity firms” to evaluate the incident.