Breach, Threat Management, Data Security

HBO hackers leak $250K ‘bounty’ offer, alter leaked documents

The HBO hackers released what they claim to be a letter from HBO offering a $250,000 “bounty payment” while some are accusing the hacker of altering leaked documents.

The anonymous threat actors sent a letter dated July 27 to select journalist purportedly of the network's offering to make a bug bounty payment of $250,000 to as part of their program for “white hat IT professionals” who are rewarded for “bringing these types of things to our attention,” according to Variety.

The letter also suggests the hacker extended the ransom-payment deadline for one ween while the $250,000 payment is made and the necessary amount of bitcoin can be secured. “You have the advantage of having surprised us,” the message said. “In the spirit of professional cooperation, we are asking you to extend your deadline for one week.”

Separately, some suspect the hackers may have manipulated at least one of the leaked documents to make it appear as though the attacker broke into the email account of HBO chairman/CEO Richard Plepler.

One of the documents is titled, “Richard Contact list.txt” that contained thousands of email addresses, suggesting the hackers obtained Plepler's personal contact list, however the file only contains email addresses from within HBO and Time Warner including internal test accounts, email addresses for the network's most popular shows, addresses for payroll and other HR matters, and email addresses used to reserve conference rooms.

None of the addresses were from anyone from outside the firm and a source close to the investigation told the publication the file was actually renamed by the hackers before it got sent to the press and was originally entitled “Vivianne Contact list.”

The list originally belonged to another senior HBO executive who had their credentials compromised in the initial breach. While changing the file name may seem like a minor lie, some say it calls into question the validity of other claims the hacker made such as whether or not they actually stole 1.5 terabytes of data. 

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