HBO offered $250K to hackers to buy time, leaked email says

Alain Brian
Août 12, 2017

"You have the advantage of having surprised us", reads the email, which Variety said was sent by an HBO technology team member on July 27.

The payment was suggested in an email which was leaked by the hackers as "a show of good faith", according to Variety.

Surprisingly, HBO's message to the online thief was not confrontational or angry but rather calm and a source close to the investigation said that it was worded in such a way so that the television company could stall for time to assess the situation. The hackers have yet to receive their money, which is why they leaked a purported email exchange with an HBO exec to Hollywood Reporter. They have claimed to make $12 to $15 million a year and have also said out of their 17 ransom targets, only 3 decided not to pay.

Obtaining that much Bitcoin at short notice is a bit more complicated than getting a loan from the Iron Bank of Braavos, so the unnamed HBO executive asked the hackers for an extension to the ransom deadline. While $250,000 in bitcoin is a lot of money to most people, it isn't almost the amount the hacker originally demanded.

Still, some speculate HBO's offer was just a stalling tactic, since we haven't seen any reports of hackers actually being paid.

It should be noted that this email was sent before both the data dumps. All documents that have been leaked bear a watermark with the message "HBO is Falling".

The hackers claim that they're not criminals, but "white hats" (used to reference people of good and moral standing, or, in computer speak, someone who hacks into a network to evaluate its security). "We have weeks of negotiations with HBO officials, but they broke their promises and want to play with us...", they said.

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