HBO Says Programming Stolen in Cyberattack

By Joe Flint and Robert McMillan Features Dow Jones Newswires

Westeros is under siege by hackers.

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HBO, home of "Game of Thrones," is the latest entertainment company to be hacked and have its content leaked online.

In a memo to staff, HBO Chief Executive Richard Plepler confirmed that proprietary information including some of its shows was recently stolen. HBO said it is working with law enforcement and cybersecurity firms to fix the breach.

HBO, a unit of Time Warner Inc., declined to elaborate on what was stolen and whether the theft included sensitive employee data. Entertainment Weekly, which broke the news of the hack, said the hackers claimed that episodes of the comedies "Ballers" and "Room 104" were put online as well as a script for a coming episode of "Game of Thrones."

The party claiming responsibility for the hack sent an email to some outlets detailing it, according to Entertainment Weekly, calling it "the greatest leak of the cyber space era."

"The problem before us is unfortunately all too familiar in the world we now find ourselves a part of," Mr. Plepler said in a statement.

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In early May, a hacker released 10 episodes of the Netflix television show "Orange Is the New Black," following a monthslong extortion attempt directed at Larsen Studios, a postproduction company that was working on the show.

Weeks later, during an internal meeting, Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert Iger told employees that hackers threatened to post an unreleased Disney film online unless the company paid a ransom in bitcoin, a digital currency that is often used by cybercriminals. Disney didn't play ball and no movie was posted suggesting it was a hoax.

Hackers are increasingly looking for ways to squeeze money directly out of their victims via extortion and "ransomware" infections, which lock victims out of their systems until they pay a fee. A January study from the cyber research group Ponemon Institute found that 51% of U.S. companies had experienced a ransomware attack.

Over the past year a series of casino and energy companies have also been hacked and hit with extortion demands ranging from $50,000 to $500,000, according to FireEye Inc., a cybersecurity company that investigates data breaches.

Write to Joe Flint at joe.flint@wsj.com and Robert McMillan at Robert.Mcmillan@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 31, 2017 14:45 ET (18:45 GMT)