Leakers’ ransom video to HBO dismisses FBI ‘shoe makers’ and makes a House of Cards joke

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HBO is the latest victim of a security breach that, so far, has resulted in the leak of unreleased episodes of several shows, scripts, internal emails, and personal information for the Game of Thrones cast. Accompanying the hack was a ransom video for HBO executives, which has now surfaced online.

The video, published by Mashable, is a five-minute screed addressed to HBO CEO Richard Plepler. An individual calling themselves “Mr. Smith” explains that they’ve “breached into your huge network,” and claims to have obtained 1.5 terabytes of information after a six-month effort. The video offers HBO three days to pay a ransom, repeatedly described as “XXXX dollars,” in what Mashable assumes is a redaction of an actual amount sent to HBO.

Despite the severity of the cyber attack on HBO — the hackers claim to have grabbed contracts, budget info, production details, and a great deal of other “most valuable informations” — the video itself is comically low-rent. (The hackers are well aware of that: “We are hackers so accept our apology for amateur mixing!”) It’s filled with mangled English, and set to a theme song Game of Thrones fans will recognize instantly; the show featured the track, “The Light of the Seven,” in its season 6 finale, during an explosive sequence of events.


As the note scrolls, the hackers warn that their leaks will “confront your empire,” and that fans will blame HBO for the ensuing chaos, instead of the perpetrators. Despite demanding money to prevent future hacks, they claim that their motives are not financial or political. (“Even we hate Trump like other Americans do.”) They claim they just enjoy grabbing data. The rest of the ransom is a bizarre combination of pop culture references, including shout-outs to Tom & Jerry cartoons and House of Cards. It also expresses distaste for the FBI. It’s safe to say that FBI agents and IT professionals are busy people, though as of press time, The Verge could not confirm any of their interest in careers as “shoe makers.”


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The hackers conclude their video by offering HBO two possible mottos at the end of all this: “Winter is Coming — HBO is Falling,” or “Winter is Coming — HBO is standing & EverLasting!” To demonstrate this point, they included a helpful visual aid.


The full transcript is available on Mashable, along with the video.

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