On July 27, an HBO employee offered $250,000 to a group of hackers that has attempted to extort the company after a data breach, as Variety first reported on Thursday. The Daily Beast has obtained the email and is publishing it in full.
The group of hackers has steadily released more information allegedly stolen from HBO, including episodes and scripts of hit-series Game of Thrones, as well as evidence indicating the theft of more internal company emails and documents. In a video, the hackers implied a ransom demand of around $6 million in exchange for not releasing any more data.
Although it’s unclear whether the offer of payment was genuine, the email still highlights the delicate balance companies increasingly have to address when blackmail-focused hackers attack their networks.
The full email an HBO employee sent to the hackers:
“We have received your letters and we appreciate your [sic] making us aware of security vulnerabilities we had not previously know about,” the email, seemingly in response to the hackers contacting HBO, reads. The Daily Beast has decided not to release the staffer’s name, since he is not an executive at the company.
The employee then asks the hackers to extend their extortion deadline “in the spirit of professional cooperation” by another week.
“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, or we can wire the funds as soon as you give us the account information,” the email reads. A bug bounty is where companies typically pay security researchers for details on vulnerabilities they uncover in a website or product.
HBO declined to comment on the email.
The group or individual which allegedly hacked HBO provided the email to The Daily Beast. Databreaches.net also published the email in full, but The Daily Beast obtained it independently and was able to confirm it was sent by an HBO employee.
In a statement given earlier this week, after a recent release of material, HBO told The Daily Beast the company “believed that further leaks might emerge from this cyber incident when we confirmed it last week. As we said, the forensic review is ongoing. While it has been reported that a number of emails have been made public, the review to date has not given us a reason to believe that our e-mail system as a whole has been compromised.”
“We continue to work around the clock with outside cybersecurity firms and law enforcement to resolve the incident. Meanwhile, our dedicated employees continue to focus on delivering the high quality of entertainment and service for which we are known,” the statement added.