HBO Offered Hackers $250,000 As Ransom to Prevent More Leaks
The company offered the payment as a "bounty payment" reward in which companies reward white-hat hackers for discovering cyber security vulnerabilities in their computer networks.
Late last month, the HBO hackers claimed to have obtained around 1.5 terabytes of information from HBO and dropped upcoming episodes of "Ballers" and "Room 104," and a script of the fourth episode of "Game of Thrones."
A week after that, the hackers released another half-gigabyte sample of its stolen HBO data, including company's emails, employment agreements, and financial balance sheets, along with the script of the upcoming episode of Game of Thrones, demanding a ransom—nearly $6 Million in Bitcoins.
Now, according to a screenshot of an email obtained by Variety, an HBO executive wrote that the company had not been able to acquire the amount of Bitcoin the hackers had demanded and requested them to extend the ransom payment deadline by one week.
"You have the advantage of having surprised us. In the spirit of professional cooperation, we are asking you to extend your deadline for one week," the HBO executive reportedly writes in the email.
Since the offered amount is just 3 to 4 percent of what the hackers demanded, the proposal apparently failed to satisfy the greed of hackers, and they have threatened to release more files from its 1.5 terabytes of stolen data every Sunday until the ransom is paid.
"As a show of good faith on our side, we are willing to commit to making a bug bounty payment of $250,000 to you as soon as we can establish the necessary account and acquire Bitcoin, or we can wire the funds as soon as you give us the account information."
Although HBO did not yet respond to the recently leaked email, a person familiar with HBO's response to the hack told Reuters that the company sent that email "as a stall tactic" and had never intended to make the $250,000 or the full $6 Million payment to the hackers.
The company previously said it was working with forensic experts and law enforcement.
If hackers have held on 1.5 terabytes of HBO data and the company refuses to pay the ransom, you should expect more leaks of upcoming episodes from your favourite shows.
"The review to date has not given us a reason to believe that our email system as a whole has been compromised. We continue to work around the clock with outside cyber security firms and law enforcement to resolve the incident," HBO spokesperson Jeff Cusson said.
Two days ago, the HBO hackers also released some of the stolen data from the company, including the home addresses and phone numbers belonging to some of the Game of Thrones show's stars.
At this moment, it is still unclear who is behind the hack. We will keep you updated with the latest information.