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HBO Tries To Save Face By Labeling Ransom To Hackers As Reward

HBO may have offered $250,000 to the cyber criminals that hacked the entertainment company’s network in July, according to emails released Friday.

Hackers obtained more than a terabyte of data from the company, including scripts for the first five episodes of season seven of “Game of Thrones.” The hackers threatened to release the data if HBO didn’t pay $6 million.

In the July 27 email, HBO officials offer the hackers $250,000, calling the payment a “bug bounty.” Tech companies often grant these bug bounties to third-party hackers who reveal — but do not exploit — weaknesses in a company’s network, the Guardian reported Friday. The company also asked for a week’s delay on the extortionists releasing the data.

“As a show of good faith on our side, we are willing to commit to making a bug bounty payment of $250,000 to you as soon as we can establish the necessary account and acquire bitcoin,” the HBO email reportedly read.

HBO made the offer four days before publicly announcing that the company had been hacked. The timing of the email seems to indicate that the hackers didn’t bite, as they released a Game of Thrones script and episodes of “Ballers” and “Room 104” the same day. The hackers also blasted a message out to the media, saying:

Hi to all mankind. The greatest leak of cyber space era is happening. What’s its name? Oh I forget to tell. Its HBO and Game of Thrones……!!!!!! You are lucky to be the first pioneers to witness and download the leak. Enjoy it & spread the words. Whoever spreads well, we will have an interview with him. HBO is falling.

The Guardian, The Hollywood Reporter, and others obtained the HBO email through similar means, with all the outlets receiving screenshots of the HBO email from a the same address, likely operated by the hackers.

Several of the outlets also noted that there is no way to confirm whether the screen shot of the email has been doctored in any way.

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