Hacking isn’t a new phenomenon, by any means. But the idea of holding your content or information hostage has been gaining more and more media attention as of late. When I say holding your information hostage, I mean, in exchange for something. Usually money. The idea of ransomware isn’t new either, but like I said, it’s gaining more traction. That being said, today’s article isn’t about ransomware specifically. But more of a spin off scenario. The hackers, who made headlines last week in relation to the HBO data breach are back. This time, they are demanding ransom. The group leaked internal emails, and multiple documents relating to Game of Thrones. Which included a detailed summary of the upcoming episode, which is scheduled to air this coming Sunday.
Like with ransomware, the hackers are urging HBO to pony up some cash in order not to leak more content. What content are they holding ransom, you ask? Well, administrator passwords for HBO’s internal network, draft scripts for five Game of Thrones episodes, an archive of emails from Leslie Cohen (HBO’s vice president for film programming) and personal phone numbers for the Game of Thrones actors. The hackers indicate that the hack actually took them about 6 months and was one of their more difficult targets. I guess HBO should be happy about that?
We have seen this before, though. In 2014 Sony Pictures was hacked. In that case the hackers leaked a number of unreleased films from the studio. Did that actually hurt Sony? Maybe marginally, but I think the argument could be made that it didn’t overall. we also saw this earlier in the year, when hackers leaked season five of Orange is the New Black. I haven’t heard Netflix crying over that, so it couldn’t have been all that bad. While I’m not trying to minimize the situation for HBO, it might not be that bad. The concern they are going to run into is around personal information. Sure, they might take a hit when it comes to viewers, but you can’t go back on leaking personal information.
If I’m HBO, I’m going to be concerned about a couple of things. One, that my system was breached and two, all the personal information contained within the stolen documents. One website suggested that employment agreements were also part of this breach. So what will happen next? Will HBO give in?
The answers to those questions are unclear, but fans should be aware that they might see some spoilers floating around on the web. It will be interesting to see how HBO responds. We have seen with some of the ransomware attacks, organizations not giving into the demands. And rightfully so. From an entertainment perspective, I don’t think this is going to hurt them. Yes, Game of Thrones is arguably one of the biggest (if not the biggest) show on TV. But I think that fans are die-hard enough to wait for it. It might even create more buzz around the episodes and the show, drawing in more viewers. I’m not a Hollywood writer, but it’s possible that changes could be made between now and that fifth episode in order to throw things off a bit. But because I’m not a writer, I can’t say that for certain. It’s just a thought.