HBO Targeted by a Cyberattack, Potential “Game of Thrones” Scripts and Episodes Leaked

The night is dark and full of hackers. HBO (Home Box Office, Inc.) has been thrown into chaos, as the major television network was hit with a massive cyberattack Sunday morning. The biggest target: the widely popular show “Game of Thrones”, with full length episodes and future scripts potentially compromised by the attack. Additional series that have also been impacted include “Ballers” and “Room 104.”

So, just how bad is the extent of this breach? The cybercriminals, who are going by the name little.finger66, have apparently leaked 1.5 terabytes of data, which isn’t a small sum. In fact, it means this attack compromised seven times the amount of data stolen in the Sony hack. Even the FBI is getting involved.

Though details on how this breach happened are still unraveling, the cybercriminals targeted specific content and data housed in different locations, which suggests multiple points of entry.

What we do know, however, is that these cybercriminals aren’t in it for the money– instead just eager to damage HBO and its reputation. This was first indicated when reporters received an anonymous email on Sunday announcing the attack. The malicious message reads: “Hi to all mankind, the greatest leak of cyber space era is happening. What’s its name? Oh I forget to tell. Its HBO and Game of Thrones……!!!!!! You are lucky to be the first pioneers to witness and download the leak. Enjoy it & spread the words. Whoever spreads well, we will have an interview with him. HBO is falling.”

Just after, the network sent a message of their own, confirming the breach in an official statement, stating, “HBO recently experienced a cyber incident, which resulted in the compromise of proprietary information. We immediately began investigating the incident and are working with law enforcement and outside cybersecurity firms.”

Then, on the morning of August 2nd, the cybercriminals made their first move, uploading a plethora of files on their own site called WinterLeak. Included in these files, which are named “HBO is Falling”, are apparently a “Game of Thrones” script and episode snippets. Users who downloaded the video content, however, described one file as a slideshow of an upcoming episode’s script set to music and another as only a mashup of episode promos and trailers.

WinterLeak also boasts episodes of additional HBO series, including the first three episodes of “Ballers’” new season, episodes 1 and 2 of upcoming comedy series “Barry”, episode 2 and 3 of “Room 104”, and episode 2 of “Insecure.”

Another file included in the “HBO is Falling” group potentially features the personal information of Viviane Eisenberg, the current Executive Vice President Legal Affairs for HBO. It allegedly contains credentials for social media, banking, and email accounts.

Moral of the story: HBO and the FBI have a lot of work to do. Unfortunately, they can take notes from a few of their predecessors, as this massive leak joins a slew of recent attacks aimed at major Hollywood companies, including both Disney and Netflix.

Therefore, with these leaks on the rise, it’s important users do their part to help out these companies and keep entertainment data secure. To do just that, follow these tips:

  • Don’t watch stolen shows. No matter how big of a fan you are, by watching or downloading a show illegally, you’re only encouraging cybercriminals to attack major companies in the future, which will only negatively impact your favorite shows. Therefore, if you’re a true blue fan, just wait for the real deal to hit the screen.
  • Only watch on legitimate, verified sites. By watching a show via a third-party site, not only are you encouraging cybercriminals to attack again in the future, you’re also endangering your own devices. These sites are often loaded with malware, and one wrong click can potentially infect your device. Therefore, be sure to view your favorite TV shows only from verified sites.
  • Use a comprehensive security solution. Whether you’re concerned about watching your favorite show on your phone or on the web, make sure all your devices are protected. Use a comprehensive security solution, like McAfee LiveSafe, to keep your personal data out of the hands of cybercriminals.

And, of course, stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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