HBO offered $250,000 to cyber criminals as bounty payment to delay data release

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HBO network last month offered $250,000 to hackers who hacked into its computer system, requesting them to extend a deadline for paying a much larger ransom. HBO offered the payment as a “bounty payment” reward in which organizations pay white-hat hackers for identifying cyber security vulnerabilities in their computer networks.

Late last month, the hackers claimed that they stole 1.5 terabytes of data from HBO. A full episode of “Ballers” and “Room 104” have been leaked online as well as a script that’s allegedly for the next episode of Game of Thrones.

After that, the criminals published a half-gigabyte sample of its stolen HBO data, including emails, employment contracts, and financial balance sheets, along with the script of the upcoming episode of Game of Thrones, asking for a ransom—about $6 Million to be paid in Bitcoins.

According to an email received by Variety, HBO had not been able to obtain the amount of Bitcoin the criminals had demanded and asked them to extend the ransom payment deadline by one week.

“You have the advantage of having surprised us. 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.”

But, the email failed to reach that goal. A few days after HBO sent the email, the hackers went to the media with details of the breach. They published an extortion note and some stolen data, including details about an upcoming episode of “Game of Thrones.”

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Eslam Medhat

is a professional pen-tester with over 9 years of IT experience bringing a strong background in programming languages and application security, ranging from network and system administration to exploit research and development. He reported various vulnerabilities for high profile companies and vendors and was successfully acknowledged by them.

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