HBO offered $250,000 to hackers in bid to delay data release

The logo for HBO,Home Box Office, the American premium cable television network, owned by Time Warner, is pictured during the HBO presentation at the Cable portion of the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Beverly Hills
The logo for HBO,Home Box Office, the American premium cable television network, owned by Time Warner, is pictured during the HBO presentation at the Cable portion of the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California August 1, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

August 12, 2017

By Jessica Toonkel

(Reuters) – Time Warner Inc’s <TWX.N> HBO network last month offered $250,000 to cyber criminals who hacked into its computer system, asking them to extend a deadline for paying a much larger ransom, according to an email reviewed by Reuters.

“You have the advantage of having surprised us,” a member of HBO’s technology team said in the July 27 email. “In the spirit of professional cooperation, we are asking you to extend your deadline for one week.”

The attack came at a sensitive time for HBO: Parent Time Warner is seeking regulatory approval to sell itself to AT&T Inc <T.N> in an $85.4 billion deal announced in October.

The note said that HBO was willing to make the payment “as a show of good faith,” but needed time to fund an account for sending payments in bitcoin digital currency or obtain account information from the hackers so it could use a conventional bank wire to transmit the funds.

The hackers did not respond to a request for comment through the email address they used to communicate with HBO. The request prompted an automated response that provided a link to an image of the July 27 note from HBO.

A person familiar with HBO’s response to the attack told Reuters that the company sent the email “as a stall tactic” and had never intended to make the $250,000 payment or pay the full $6 million the hackers had demanded to hold off going public with data stolen from HBO.

Nonetheless, the email failed to achieve that goal. A few days after HBO sent the note, the hackers went to the media with details of the breach.

They released an extortion note and some stolen data, including details about an upcoming episode of the network’s popular drama “Game of Thrones.”

Variety earlier reported details about the $250,000 offer.

(Reporting by Jessica Toonkel in New York; Additional reporting by Narottam Medhora in Bengaluru; Editing by Jim Finkle and Dan Grebler)

  • zeitgeist

    As I understand it the “matter” has drawn the attention of the FBI. It seems that by looking at hackers email for ransom they have discovered that the address of the sender is Putin@russia.gov. Good work.

  • All American

    Sounds unlawful

  • Gordo

    HBO deserves what they get. If I were the hackers I would not trust HBO, the only character HBO has is bad character.

  • A marcus Young

    Dumbass liberals are paying ransome again. Will they be suprised when the data gets released anyway? Probably not they didnt last time. They will just write another check to the Clinton Foundation who will pass the bill on to taxpayers

  • lovestorun

    Karma is finally catching up with HBO. About time.

  • Dory Ringer

    Don’t do it, HBO! I enjoy GOT and look forward to each new episode, but not at the expense of giving in to blackmailers. The show is great and will still entertain even if some greedy SOBs try to ruin the suspense.

  • sgt joe rock

    the liberal HBO best pay up since you all pay terrorist anyways.

  • slohunter

    What’s HBO?

  • Fredd_Ziffle

    I am in 100% support of a kinetic response to cyber-terrorists. If you commit an act of cyber-terrorism, anywhere in the world, you should expect a Predator drone to deliver a Javelin into your mother’s basement, blowing your pimple-faced, bun-wearing, Dorito-eating, blubbery self into a greasy stain.

    • All American

      Love it❤️

  • OceanaJones

    Hold out for more money! Hollywood said they would be willing to pay TWO MILLION DOLLARS. Stick it to ’em!

  • Philip Voida

    hackers should be terminated with extreme prejudice when they steal data, let them write programs or expose security problems but once you steal data I would be happy to draw and quarter

  • Jesse

    What a mess. TWC wants more time to find out itself what data was actually stolen and see if it worth the 7.5 M the hackers originally requested.

  • Jack Woodburn

    Hackers are nothing more than information terrorists. We don’t negotiate with terrorists, we KILL them. LITERALLY!

    • R A.

      Obviously HBO is like o’Bama – negotiate w terrorists and pay them HUGE SUMS of money
      HBO = liberal pus sies

  • M10 Bob

    Too cheap to invest in a subscription to PC Matic I guess, lol

  • TomSJr

    IF HBO had hired me as their Server Admin, I would have found these FOOLS, contacted the FBI and jailed them all.

    • M10 Bob

      They always wait till after the damage!

      Till then, they believe the myths about “internet anonymity”…..

      • All American

        Obammy sold us out

        • M10 Bob

          I was astounded to see him re-elected once we knew who he really was…that nearly his entire book about his family and himself was FICTION!

          • All American

            He does tell a good one while maintaining a straight face and eye contact. Hitlerish⬇️

    • Fredd_Ziffle

      Unless they are outside the US. Then contact the CIA and their Missile Delivery Drone Department.

    • Gordo

      The #1 problem with hacking is trust, people trust others with their credentials,