How Did Hackers Manage to Hack HBO?
By now, you’re bound to have heard about the hackers, known as ‘Mr Smith’, who found a way to steal information from US television network, HBO this week. As well as scripts from award-winning TV program Game of Thrones, (including one which was previously unaired) they also took internal documents and personal emails which have the potential to be sensitive and private from one of HBO’s top network executives.
The threat doesn’t stop with this attack and the limited release, as the hackers are holding HBO to ransom, threatening to release additional sensitive data if they aren’t given millions of dollars.
The video message from the hackers included a demand to the chief executive of HBO, Richard Pleper, asking for their ‘6 month salary in bitcoin’, which is rumored to be $6,000,000. Without that ransom paid, the hackers threaten to release more scripts, and information which they say would be damaging to the network.
Keeping Safe From Hackers
Hacks like this have become more and more common over the past few years, as the Internet of Things joins computer networks together in increasingly complex and intricate ways. Whether it’s the 2014 Sony hack, which included a searchable database of 30,000 documents, or the more recent WannaCry attack which affected over 200,000 victims including the British National Health Service, we all need to have our eyes open to cybercrime.
The usual rules for online safety apply to keep yourself protected, including being aware of how and when you are most vulnerable. If you do a lot of your finances and communication with services online, make sure not to open any suspicious emails, even if they include the company logo. Do not send any personal information by email either, especially if the correspondence makes you feel in any way uneasy.
For some people, it’s recreational activities which will make them open to attack. If you enjoy online gaming or video slots, always use a secure server, and never download documents sent by other players on the site.
Any files which you want to download should first be run through a virus checker like this online version by Kaspersky, which will automatically scan the file and make sure that it doesn’t contain any malicious software or anything unexpected.
On to the next…
Even if you manage to avoid being taken in by malware, it’s likely that the people responsible for attacks like the one on HBO will just continue with their next victims. ‘Mr Smith’ claims that HBO are their 17th victim, and only 3 have refused to pay the ransom.
HBO themselves have addressed the situation in an email to staff members, but have not answered whether they are planning to pay the ransom demand themselves. Rather, Pleper has been optimistic about their chances of managing their route through this crisis unscathed. “As has been the case with any challenge we have ever faced, I have absolutely no doubt that we will navigate our way through this successfully.”