For years HBO has threatened those who illegally download its hit show Game of Thrones with strongly worded letters. Put into context, HBO’s gentle reminder that Game of Thrones is available legally through an online subscription makes sense from a business standpoint. The premiere of its seventh season saw over 90 million streamers pirating the episode, all of whom didn’t pay a single dollar to the specialty provider. Though a download doesn’t necessarily mean HBO has lost a sale, it does imply its losing potential millions in subscription fees.
Someone on the web took umbrage to these letters in August and decided to hit back. HBO was the target of a security breach that leaked roughly 1.5 terabytes of confidential information onto the web. So far, only 3.4 gigabytes of information has seen the light of day, but hackers threaten to leak the remaining data if an undisclosed ransom isn’t met.
What they hold ransom includes the contact details of some of the Game of Thrones stars, including Emilia Clarke and Peter Dinklage. Their phone numbers, email addresses, and home addresses are a part of a larger packet that includes corporate documents. Roughly a month’s worth of HBO’s VP Film Programming Leslie Cohen’s emails is on the line, as are two scripts for previously unreleased Game of Thrones episodes. Hackers also threaten to release financial balance sheets and marketing plans in controlled leaks until they receive their money.
Despite offering $250,000 in bitcoin as bounty, it’s unlikely HBO will bow to these multi-million dollar demands. It’s rare for large corporations to bend to ransoms as there’s no guarantee hackers will release the stolen information after receiving their money.
HBO isn’t the only target of cybercrime in recent months. Back in April of 2017, Netflix was under similar pressure as a hacking group, The Dark Overload, threatened to release episodes of the streaming giant’s award-winning Orange is the New Black ahead of schedule.
What’s at stake for HBO has a greater potential to harm the cable company than Netflix, considering the sensitive nature of corporate emails. In 2014, Sony suffered a similar hack that resulted in reputational damage thanks to the contents of private email correspondence between employees.
On the other hand, intellectual property is a lot different than innocent actor’s contact information, the release of which can jeopardize their anonymity and safety.
Jeff Cusson, a spokesperson for HBO, said the cable company has no reason to believe the breach is a part of a larger problem. The company is undergoing what they call a “forensic review”. To date, it hasn’t uncovered any reason to believe the rest of its email or security system is compromised. That’s all she wrote in terms of his reply. Cusson fails to comment on the hacker’s demands.
It seems like its official response is similar to the cease and desist letter sent to streamers who, thanks to iPads and tablets, can stream and download future episodes anytime and anywhere, without paying HBO or being a slave to its broadcasting schedule. It comes in handy for those with long commutes. As long as they have a portable battery and a tablet or iPad skin for the commute, they can watch Game of Thrones without any problems.
Portability introduces a new risk to viewers. Absorbed by Westeros, it’s far too easy to let overcrowded trains damage your device. Luckily, skin providers like dbrand offer strong and durable coverings that resist rough handling, giving you more grip to hold onto during a bumpy ride. Its grime- and water-resistant surface is just one of the ways the skins from dbrand.com save your tablet, iPad, and even phones from cosmetic damages. How can you resist it when it comes in a texture as appropriate as dragon skin?
A backup battery, of course, is there just in case the first one drains half-way through an episode and left wondering what comes next for Cersei. External battery packs, or power banks, are easy to find when you use a guide like this to help make your choice.
Compared to the decision that lies ahead for HBO, it’s simple one. Just like when you decided to download that premiere and throw HBO’s letter.