On August 8th 2017 the hacker group called of Mr. Smith, declared that HBO had three days to pay them 6 million dollars. It has taken the hackers six months to access the 1.5 Tb data which they claim to have stolen from HBO. They believe that 6 million dollars equals half a year’s salary. The hacker group want the money paid in bitcoins because they can be used outside of the normal banking systems. If they do not get the money they will publish all episodes of Game of Thrones – including episodes that have not yet been released. In addition they threaten to publish manuscript material from season 4-7.
Mr. Smith steals 1.5 Tb of data
The hackers have already released about half a Gb of material, including episodes of the series Ballers and Room 104 online. In addition to the film and series they have gained access to financial information, mail correspondence and a number of other confidential documents. Mr. Smith say that they have hacked 17 large companies so far and only three have refused to pay. Upto 1.5 Tb of data in total may have been stolen and there are indications that the hacker group will continuously publish material from the extensive data theft until they receive the ransom.
Streaming services are popular targets
Movie companies and streaming services are generally popular targets for hackers. In April Netflix was targeted and a hacker group got hold of all unpublished episodes of Orange Is The New Black. Netflix refused to pay the ransom and the group published the first 10 episodes of the latest season of Orange Is The New Black before it was publicly released. Netflix does not appear to be bankrupt as a result and the hacker group has not conducted new hacks on the streaming service.
In May, just two weeks after the Netflix hack, Disney was hacked by a group that demanded a ransom if they shouldn’t release material from a movie which had not yet premiered. The hackers put pressure on Disney by releasing 5 minutes of the movie and threatening to continuously publish 20-minute cuts of the movie until Disney paid.
Like Mr. Smith, the group wanted to have the large sum of money paid in bitcoins. There are also a number of examples where hacker groups both threaten to release movies for free download and also threaten to leak confidential documents and phone numbers belonging to movie stars.
Hacks for money and ideology
Blackmail of major movie companies is an increasing trend and may be due to several things. First and foremost these are companies which have a lot of money. In addition this kind of hack appeals to a wide group of hackers. Some groups hack movie and streaming services for ideological reasons while others do it for the money. What they have in common is that they are all indirectly supported by normal people who would rather watch a free movie than pay a monthly subscription to a streaming service.
FBI recommends that you pay
Sources from the FBI in Los Angeles offered surprising advice for film producers, services and celebrities in May. They encourage victims to pay the ransom. The FBI in Los Angeles officially states that they will not encourage anyone to pay a blackmail ransom but instead that it is the victim’s own choice as to what they choose to do. There are probably more hacks on movie producers and streaming services that we have not heard about because the ransoms have been paid in secret. Some services might even just have been hacked but still do not know because it is often something that is first discovered when the message about extortion comes.
Protect your computer while streaming
When streaming movies or TV, pay close attention to your computer’s security. Hackers can not only access streaming services, but also your personal information on your computer as you stream.
Anti Explorator is designed to locate, identify and remove even the latest threats. You can download our latest version here, which also includes Parental Control and Adblocker.