White walkers, dragons, Dothraki hordes and wildfire – the citizens of Westeros are no stranger to threats and foreign dangers. But it appears the biggest hazard to the world of Game of Thrones isn’t in mythical creatures or foreign armies, it’s a bunch of hackers in the real world.
HBO has been reeling since being the victim of a ‘disturbing’ cyber attack on July 31. Hackers going by the pseudonym "Mr. Smith" made off with 1.5 terabytes from their attack, announcing their hit with an email reading: “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.”
The initially released an early script and a partially complete version of this week’s episode, Spoils of War, seven days before it was broadcast and now Mr Smith has now made the startling move of releasing personal information from some of the show’s stars. According to CBS, Mr Smith’s latest document dump released phone numbers and email addresses for Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke, alongside scripts for Game of Thrones episodes and emails from HBO vice president Leslie Cohen.
Mr Smith has also demanded that HBO pay their 6-month salary in bitcoin" – alleged to be $6 million – by August 10, or they will make further leaks. According to The New York Times, the hackers have claimed they earn $12 million to $15 million a year from blackmailing organizations.
Mr Smith have also stated the said they would only deal directly with "Richard" and only send one "letter" detailing how to pay, presumably via bitcoin.
At time of writing, HBO have shown no desire to cooperate with Mr Smith, but have confirmed some of the stolen data includes "some” HBO programming, which is also said to include episodes of Ballers and Room 104.
A statement from HBO chairman and CEO Richard Pepler given to Entertainment Weekly reads: “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.”