HBO offered $250,000 as a “bounty payment” to a hacker who stole TV show scripts from the company, according to an email obtained by CNBC, but a source at the firm said it was just a “delay tactic.”
Last week, details of a data breach at HBO came to light. Scripts from shows such as “Game of Thrones” were leaked online ahead of Sunday’s episode. A hacker or group called “Mr Smith” claimed responsibility and said they had around 1.5 terabytes of data from HBO.
The hackers demanded money worth six months of their salary, claiming they make between $12 million to $15 million from stealing intellectual property and blackmailing companies. Those hackers appear to have been engaged in email correspondence with HBO.
In the message dated July 27, an IT employee said the company has been “working hard” since July 23 and asked the hackers to extend their ransom deadline, before making an offer.
“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,” the email read, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
CNBC has managed to verify the email is real.
The HBO employee has also chosen their words carefully. Instead of referring to a ransom, they have used the term “bug bounty payment.” This phrase refers to a reward paid by a company to good hackers for finding flaws in their system. Many technology companies have bug bounty programs in which they reward good hackers for finding security holes.
But a source close to the situation told CNBC that this email was merely a “delay tactic” and said HBO is having no communication with the hackers now.
HBO declined to comment when contacted by CNBC.
Read the full Hollywood Reporter and Variety articles.
Source : CNBC