Breach, Threat Management, Data Security

Hack Sparrow: New ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film reportedly stolen, held for ransom

True-life digital pirates have reportedly hijacked the upcoming film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and plan to leak it online in increments, unless Disney pays an exorbitant ransom demand to rescue its movie.

The scenario is reminiscent to the April 2017 leak of Orange is the New Black season five, after a hacker or cybercriminal group called The Dark Overlord stole Netflix content from a third-party company, and subsequently released the episodes in installments when extortion demands weren't met.

According to a report by Deadline Hollywood, Disney CEO Bob Iger acknowledged in a town hall meeting on Monday that a release was stolen, but did not specifically name the title; however, sources identified the film as the fifth movie in the Jack Sparrow franchise that stars Johnny Depp.

Pirates is scheduled for a May 26 release. Disney reportedly will not comply with the ransom demand and is working with the FBI.

"This breach highlights the difficulty in securing data in house or with the numerous production houses they use to bring their stories to life," said Brian Vecci, technical evangelist with insider threat protection firm Varonis Systems. "We don't yet know where exactly the security for this data broke down, but it's clear that Disney, a post-production vendor, or someone else in the chain stopped watching for long enough for the data to get stolen. Either someone had access and wasn't supposed to, or simply wasn't being watched when something went wrong."

UPDATE: It now appears that threat to release the latest Pirates film was a bluff. “To our knowledge we were not hacked,” Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger told Yahoo Finance in late May 2017. “We had a threat of a hack of a movie being stolen. We decided to take it seriously but not react in the manner in which the person who was threatening us had required.”

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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