The Game of Thrones hackers are still at it. A purported leaked email, sent to Forbes and other publications by the extortionists, appeared to come from an HBO executive, offering a $250,000 “bug bounty” for showing up weaknesses in the firm’s system.
HBO has not yet confirmed or denied the validity of the email, though it has previously admitted to a breach, after the hacker or hackers, who use the two names Little Finger and Mr Smith, leaked Game of Thrones episodes and personal information of the cast.
The email containing the bug bounty offer came from Little Finger in a message promising a “second wave.” The alleged HBO offer, dated July 27th, was sent to Little Finger’s email address, hosted in China. According to the leaked image, the HBO exec wrote that the company had not been able to acquire the amount of Bitcoin the hackers had demanded, which was reportedly around $6 million in the cryptocurrency, their apparent six-month salary. If unpaid, the hackers promised to leak 1.5 terabytes of HBO’s corporate information.
“You have the advantage of having surprised us,” the email read. “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, or we can wire the funds as soon as you give us the account information.”
In a previous email, Little Finger, named after the Machiavellian Game of Thrones character Petyr Baelish, wrote: “If history repeats itself, HBO may NEVER be the same Again. Winter really is here.” The original leak, containing a purported script and notes of a Game of Thrones episode, came from Mr Smith, who claimed to have access to all HBO’s internal emails. “We have weeks of negotiations with HBO officials, but they broke their promises and want to play with us,” Mr Smith wrote on August 3rd, signing off: “HBO is falling.”
Despite the hyperbole, the attack is yet to be hugely damaging for the network. Even the leaked episodes haven’t caused a dip in those watching the shows, airing every Sunday. The last episode scored 10.2 million live viewers.
HBO hadn’t responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. It’s previously said it’s working with cybersecurity experts to assess the damage and recover from the attack.
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