HBO Says Some Programming Stolen in Cyberattack -- Update

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 Monday 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.

Among the stolen goods posted by a hacker calling himself Little.Finger66 on emails were episodes of the HBO shows "Ballers," "Insecure," "Room 104" and "Barry." Also posted were details on an upcoming episode of "Game of Thrones" although no actual episodes were posted. Little.Finger66 didn't respond to a request for comment.

HBO, a unit of Time Warner Inc., declined to elaborate on what was stolen and whether the theft also included sensitive employee data. News of the hack was first reported by Entertainment Weekly.

"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 also have 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 18:21 ET (22:21 GMT)