The HBO Game of Thrones hack saga continues with new revelations about the massive cyber attack. The TV network reportedly wanted to pay $250,000 in bitcoins to the attackers, disguised as a bug bounty reward rather than a ransom. A few days ago, a report said the hackers asked HBO to pay millions in bitcoins to avoid further leaks.
The hack was first mentioned a few days ago, after episode 3 of the seventh Game of Thrones season aired. The script for the fourth episode was posted online by hackers, who also shared unreleased TV episodes from HBO shows. That’s why you may know it as the Game of Thrones hack, though the hackers did not specifically target the show. Furthermore, it doesn’t appear that they actually have possession of any of the unreleased episodes.
The hackers claimed they stole no less than 1.5TB of data after more than six months of probing the security of HBO’s internal network and threatened to reveal more content, including more personal data. Just a few days ago, they posted contact details for some Game of Thrones cast members, as well as internal emails belonging to one HBO exec.
But the negotiations with HBO aren’t going well, a new report explains. The hackers have yet to receive their money, which is why they leaked a purported email exchange with an HBO exec to Hollywood Reporter. The HBO exec apparently crafted a very carefully worded reply to hackers, which avoids any language that would make HBO look like it’s ready to pay attackers off.
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. … In the spirit of professional cooperation, we are asking you to extend your deadline for one week.”
“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,” the person continued.
The hackers leaked the email because of the money. “It’s just about money. We have weeks of negotiations with HBO officials, but they broke their promises and want to play with us…,” they said.
It’s unclear whether HBO was really willing to pay the ransom, or whether the company was simply trying to stall as the investigation got under way. The hackers, meanwhile, have yet to leak any other compromising HBO details or unreleased HBO shows.