HBO has joined the ranks of Hollywood entertainment companies to suffer a major cyber attack. You might remember when Sony announced theirs in 2014 — by comparison, this one is like breaking a teacup at afternoon tea, but it’s still plenty bad. The hackers claim to have obtained 1.5 terrabytes of company data (as contrasted to 100 terrabytes from the Sony hacking). So far, upcoming episodes of Ballers and Room 104 have apparently been put online. There is also written material that’s allegedly from next week’s fourth episode of Game of Thrones, with more leaks promised by the hackers. HBO is acknowledging the incident, but they’re not saying just how bad it is.
Tuesday morning, HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler sent an email to HBO employees alerting them of the breach.
“As most of you have probably heard by now, there has been a cyber incident directed at the company which has resulted in some stolen proprietary information, including some of our programming,” he wrote. “Any intrusion of this nature is obviously disruptive, unsettling, and disturbing for all of us. I can assure you that senior leadership and our extraordinary technology team, along with outside experts, are working round the clock to protect our collective interests. The efforts across multiple departments have been nothing short of herculean. It is a textbook example of quintessential HBO teamwork. The problem before us is unfortunately all too familiar in the world we now find ourselves a part of. As has been the case with any challenge we have ever faced, I have absolutely no doubt that we will navigate our way through this successfully.”
For years, HBO has been fighting a battle to keep Game of Thrones storylines secret and the show’s content from being illegally distributed — particularly before the episodes air. During season 5, the first four episodes were leaked online before the show’s season premiere, sourced from review DVDs sent to press and industry insiders. Needless to say, HBO doesn’t send those out anymore. There have been other minor leaks, but this is the first time HBO has been the victim of an actual hacking attack.
There is no work on whether personal or security sensitive information in what the hackers took. It’s entirely possible that the only way we’ll know is when — or if — the hackers release it.