Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Hackers who targeted HBO last month released a trove of new data on Monday, including a file that appeared to show the phone numbers and other personal details of the stars of “Game of Thrones,” and demanded a ransom under the threat of releasing more sensitive network data, according to multiple reports.
The data dump, comprised of just 3.4 gigabytes of the 1.5 terabytes allegedly stolen by the group, appeared online Monday and included a video ransom note, according to The Associated Press.
In the five-minute video, a “Mr. Smith” tells HBO CEO Richard Plepler that the network has three days to pay a ransom in bitcoins or see hackers release more confidential corporate data and entire unaired seasons of the network’s shows, the AP reported.
One of the documents leaked Monday appeared to include a confidential cast list for “Game of Thrones,” HBO’s wildly popular adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series “A Song of Ice and Fire.” The document included what appeared to be the personal cellphone numbers and email addresses of actors including Emilia Clark, Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey, according to the AP.
The Verge reported that draft scripts from five “Game of Thrones” episodes, including one scheduled to air this Sunday, were released in the latest data dump. Also leaked were a month’s worth of emails from Leslie Cohen, HBO’s vice president for film programming.
In its ransom letter, the group claimed that it took six months to breach HBO’s security and demanded “our six-month salary in bitcoin,” the AP reported, adding that the group claimed to have earned between $12 million and $15 million each year by stealing information and then blackmailing companies. The group redacted the exact amount of money they were demanding in the ransom letter released Monday.
“Our demand is clear and non-negotiable: We want XXXX dollars to stop leaking your data,” the ransom note from Mr. Smith said in part, Wired reported. “HBO spends $12 million for market research and $5 million for ('Game of Thrones' season 7) advertisements, so consider us another budget for your advertisements!”
“The review to date has not given us a reason to believe that our email system as a whole has been compromised,” he told the news site.
HBO officials acknowledged last week that the company had been targeted by hackers who managed to get “proprietary information.” The group behind the cyberattack last week released what appeared to be at least one script from “Game of Thrones” and episodes of the networks’ “Ballers” and “Room 104” series.
In the video letter Monday, the hackers claimed that HBO was the 17th company to be targeted by them and that only three previous targets refused to pay, according to the AP. The group said it spends $500,000 each year to buy exploits that allow them to break into networks before Microsoft and other software companies are aware of the security holes.