Game of Thrones episode leak: HBO hack is bigger than spoilers

1.5 TB of data has been stolen.

 |  4-minute read |   04-08-2017
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Game of Thrones leaks have been in the news for a week now. They are all over the social media. On WhatsApp messages. People are losing their minds. Woe is them if they find out who dies in the next episode a couple of days before they see it. It is not, fans of GoT, the end of the world. Really, no one can spoon-feed you spoilers, all you got to do is be a little vigilant.

The leaks, however, are a big deal, not for the rest of the world, but for HBO. Home Box Office or HBO – the people who have played an important in part in making sure that television is in its golden age – suffered quite a bit thanks to these leaks. It’s a whole lot more than the one odd leaked script of a Game of Thrones episode; it is a theft of 1.5 terabytes of data!

According a report in Variety, a security company hired by HBO to scrub search results for the hacked files from search engines has told Google that the hackers stole “thousands of Home Box Office (HBO) internal company documents”.

The disclosure came as part of a DMCA take-down notice sent to Google on Tuesday to force the search engine to take down links to the leaked files. The take-down notice also detailed that the hackers did away with “masses of copyrighted items including documents, images, videos and sound”.

leaks_080417070703.jpgPhoto: Screengrab

Apart from an episode and script of Game of Thrones, the hackers also released episodes of Ballers, Insecure and Room 104. But they did not stop there. According to reports, the hackers have also leaked personal information of a senior HBO executive. That information, published online in a text document, contains access information to dozens of online accounts, including paid newspaper subscriptions, online banking, and personal health services.

Additionally, the hackers claimed that they have accessed some of HBO’s key network infrastructure – potentially sensitive internal documents, employee data, and a possible access to internal corporate email. And they have hinted that additional information may be released in the near future.

And while HBO is trying its best to control the damage, its efforts seem to be in vain – particularly when you see how a GoT episode has managed to make its way into the internet. Episode 4 of season 7 has now leaked online in a low-quality format with a “for internal viewing only” watermark — thanks to Google Drive postings in a Reddit thread. 

This is, of course, not the first time HBO has had to deal with leaks. A couple of years ago, the first four episodes of season 5 were leaked online, thanks to advanced screeners that are sent out to members of the press.

Last year, an HBO subsidiary somehow managed to release a season 6 episode a day before it could be aired. This is the reason why HBO decided to scrap screeners for season 7, but as fate would have it, a security breach at the network did the job this time.

HBO is now trying to reassure its staff. Entertainment Weekly reported chairman Richard Plepler’s email:

As promised, I wanted to update you on our recent cyber incident and where we currently stand. There has been and will continue to be an enormous amount of speculation in the media. It is important to understand that, as is often the case, things you read may very well not be true. Many people have expressed particular concern about our e-mail system. At this time, we do not believe that our e-mail system as a whole has been compromised, but the forensic review is ongoing.

We are also in the process of engaging an outside firm to work with our employees to provide credit monitoring and we will be following up with those details. Meantime, continue to do the excellent work which defines this company across all departments and know that the appropriate teams are working round the clock to manage our way through this difficult period.

So really, things are a lot worse than a leaked grainy episode or a few spoilers. A lot is at stake here.

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