The popular American television network HBO has suffered a hack on its social media accounts, but what’s more concerning is the attackers have gained access to other platforms, enabling them to obtain unreleased episodes.
A report carried out by The Guardian indicates that the hack was facilitated by a group dubbed “Mr. Smith,” who further informed the tech site Mashable that they have intentions to leak most anticipated episodes.
Of course, this would spell doom for HBO because they have spent rather large sums of money to produce the shows.
And consequently, leaking the content to the general public before its release will cause a reduction in HBO’s expected revenue from the shows.
Therefore, the company will be dealt even more losses.
Various reports indicate that those who facilitated the hack had obtained unreleased episodes of the ever-popular ‘Game of Thrones’ series, and the group demanded to be paid ransom sums running into the millions of dollars to keep the information safe from a leak.
Sources indicate that the hackers claim to be in possession of over one terabyte of data.
The same sources state that the other HBO television shows affected by the hack include ‘Room’ and ‘Ballers.’
Rumor has it that the hackers also made away with a trove of data containing HBO employees’ personal information.
This includes full names, telephone numbers, email addresses, locations, etc.
To some, this cyber attack on HBO can be compared to the infamous Sony hack that transpired some years back.
However, The Guardian reports HBO did not bow down to the request of the hackers and as a result, they categorically refused.
The issue of concern, though, is that the attackers have already followed through with some of their threats, disclosing confidential information including documents and emails.
It is important to note that since the hackers never released all the shows simultaneously, the impact on HBO will not be catastrophic so as to spell complete doom for business—since subscribers will still stay tuned to the television network to keep up with their favorite shows.
HBO-produced television series are notoriously surrounded by hype.
In such cases, it is up to relevant stakeholders to come to a consensus and work out a proper channel to solve this issue.
The key now is to avoid disclosure of more sensitive information in the future, which could pose a serious threat to HBO and cause it irreparable reputational and financial damage.
This means the network should implement stronger protocol regarding sharing information with third-party vendors and post-production partners, as well as the actors, script writers and crew working on an HBO set.
Consequently, HBO acknowledged that there was indeed a hack on the network’s servers and platforms, but they also clarified that they’re not in constant communication with the attackers.
For this reason, they will cease from making comments whenever something related to HBO is released.
In the same statement, HBO said that it’s possible the group responsible for this hack will release the stolen episodes slowly over time.
And therefore, it’s no use for HBO to participate in “games” played with the attackers.
Another report states that after the hack transpired, the fourth episode of the new ‘Game of Thrones’ season was leaked through the Indian distribution partner, Star India.
As a result, the linked was shared and downloaded countless times across various platforms before the video was pulled down.
In the end, law enforcement agencies in Mumbai arrested the individuals involved for acts of piracy.
In other previous instances, HBO itself accidentally leaked episode six in season seven.
The episode quickly spread through social media and sites that accommodate torrents.
As much as this could have been due to a simple human error, HBO ought to streamline its operations to avoid simple mistakes.
Following the leak, the television network responded by saying the release was not as a result of a hack and that it had already been pulled back the pending release date.
Another group that targeted HBO is the famous cyber gang commonly known as “OurMine.” This group markets itself as a cyber security firm whose sole purpose is to improve the security of any given system by establishing its flaws.
The first step OurMine makes is to hack into the system of their target.
Afterwards, they leave a simple message stating that they were only there to test the security measures.
Since they had proven the vulnerability to the companies affected, they further prompt the victim to seek their services.
Of course, they target high-end clients in order to build a name for themselves.
A few weeks ago, the group pulled a similar stunt on HBO’s Twitter accounts, and posted the message as they do on other occasions.
The good news is that despite the hack, HBO—through its relevant office—was able to regain control of its accounts and pull down the tweets in less than one hour, as reported by NBC News.
OurMine has established a reputation for targeting prominent social media accounts of very famous public figures and celebrities, from the likes of Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Travis Kalanick of Uber, and Jack Dorsey of Twitter.
These four hacks all took place last summer.
Now, as the world continues to embrace technology in the various fields that stand to benefit from it, we ought to know that this is just perhaps the beginning of cyber crime, and many dangerous scenarios are yet to come.
A good reason for this is that more people are being exposed to technology and learning new skills on a frequent if not daily basis.
And so, if the rate of demand is high enough, the technological era will give birth to cyber criminals who will operate within their comfort zone—whether at home or a restaurant.
Their sole intent will be to make money using the skills they have.
As much as it may have long term consequences, especially when one is caught, some people just have the willingness and passion to embrace the risks.